International Ice Hockey Federation

Czechs, Canada go way back

Czechs, Canada go way back

History of great clashes between semi-final foes

Published 15.05.2015 18:48 GMT+2 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Czechs, Canada go way back
Canadian forward Brendan Shanahan tries to score on Czech goaltender Dominik Hasek at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano. Photo: IIHF Archive
Saturday’s semi-final between the host Czech Republic and powerhouse Canada is far from the first memorable confrontation between these rivals.

The two nations have a long connection in international hockey, going back to Mike Buckna. A native of Trail, British Columbia, Buckna came to Czechoslovakia in the 1930s and 1940s and introduced coaching techniques that had a profound influence on the development of the Czech hockey style.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the important games between the Czechs and Canadians – acknowledging, of course, that great Slovak players were also involved during the Czechoslovakia era. (Buckna himself was of Slovak heritage.)

15 February 1949: In Stockholm, Sweden, Czechoslovakia records its first-ever victory over Canada (3-2) en route to its second straight IIHF World Championship gold medal. The Czechoslovaks achieve this feat despite the tragic loss of six players the year before in a plane crash over the English Channel. Canada is represented by the amateur Sudbury Wolves and finishes second.

7 February 1964: In Innsbruck, Austria, the Czechoslovaks beat Canada at the Olympics for the first time (3-1). This tournament marks the IIHF debut of Father David Bauer’s Canadian national team based at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and featuring such notables as goalie Seth Martin, defenceman Rod Seiling, and forward Brian Conacher. With future IIHF Hall of Famers like Jiri Holik and Frantisek Tikal, Czechoslovakia winds up with the bronze, while Canada comes fourth.

15 September 1976: Darryl Sittler scores the overtime winner as Canada captures the inaugural 1976 Canada Cup with a 6-5 victory over Czechoslovakia in Game Two of the finals in Montreal, Canada. Superstar defenceman Bobby Orr is named tournament MVP, while Milan Novy is the leading Czech scorer with eight points.

3 May 1985: Jiri Sejba notches a hat trick to lead Czechoslovakia to a 5-3 win over Canada and the gold medal in the closing game of the World Championship in Prague. The victory is all the more notable as the Canadian squad – featuring Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, and Ron Francis – is coming off a 3-1 win over the Soviets, snapping a 47-game winning streak at the Worlds for coach Viktor Tikhonov’s “Big Red Machine.”

5 May 1994: Canada’s 3-2 quarter-final victory over the Czechs paves its way to its first World Championship gold medal in 33 years. Shayne Corson pots the tie-breaker with under three minutes to play.

5 May 1996: The Czech Republic earns its first IIHF World Championship gold as an independent nation with a 4-2 victory over Canada in the final in Vienna, Austria. Martin Prochazka pots the winner with just 19 seconds left on the clock. This kicks off the golden era of IIHF success for the Czechs, including their only Olympic gold plus three straight world titles (1999-01)

20 February 1998: In the most famous game of all time between these two rivals, Dominik Hasek stones five Canadian stars (Theoren Fleury, Ray Bourque, Joe Nieuwendyk, Eric Lindros and Brendan Shanahan) in a 2-1 semi-final shootout win at the first “NHL Olympics” in Nagano, Japan. Canadian coach Marc Crawford is criticized for leaving Wayne Gretzky, the NHL’s greatest goal-scorer, on the bench during the game-winning shots competition. Robert Reichel gets the winner on Canadian netminder Patrick Roy. The Czechs go on to win gold, beating Russia 1-0 in the final, while Canada loses the bronze medal game 3-2 to Finland.

18 February 2002: In the Olympic round-robin closer in Salt Lake City, Canada rallies to tie the Czechs 3-3, buoyed by two Mario Lemieux goals. The game is best-remembered for Team Canada executive director Wayne Gretzky’s post-game rant, alleging that “the whole world wants us to lose” and that Czech defenceman Roman Hamrlik should have been suspended for a cross-check on Fleury. Gretzky’s words are credited with sparking Canada to its first Olympic gold in 50 years. The Czechs fail to repeat as champions after losing 1-0 to Russia in the quarter-finals.

12 September 2004: Vincent Lecavalier beats netminder Tomas Vokoun at 3:45 of overtime to lift Canada to a 4-3 semi-final win over the Czech Republic at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. Canadian goalie Roberto Luongo plays heroically, making 37 saves. It is the stiffest test the Canadians face en route to the title, as they go undefeated and never trail an opponent.

15 May 2005: The Czech Republic defeats Canada 3-0 in the World Championship gold medal game in Vienna. Vokoun records the shutout and Jaromir Jagr earns his membership in the IIHF’s Triple Gold Club (Olympics, Worlds, Stanley). Canada’s Joe Thornton is named tournament MVP.


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