Team Canada Inline captured a gold medal at the 2012 IIHF World Inline Hockey Championships, held June 1st to 7th in Ingolstadt, Germany.
The golden cast of players came from British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec with coaching and support staff all coming from the Sylvan Lake Admirals.
This is the second medal for Canada in two years and represents the first gold medal since 1998. Last year Team Canada won its first medal since 1998, a bronze. Led by Coach/GM Jason Stephens and video coach Ted Stephens last year, additional members to this years team staff were Rebecca Spears, athletic therapist and Greg Suggett, equipment manager.
In round robin play Canada lost 5-4 in overtime to Slovenia in its first game, won Game 2 against Germany 4-3 and lost Game 3 to the U.S. 4-2.
Game 3 against the U.S. was tied with 2:23 to go when an errant pass in front of the Canadian goaltender landed on a U.S. forward’s stick and the U.S. went ahead 3-2. With 1:40 to play Team Canada pulled its goaltender and the U.S. scored an empty net goal to make it 4-2.
All teams enjoyed a day off June 4th before starting quarter final play. In the cross over from Pool A, Canada faced Great Britain and solidly defeated them 9-3, which set the stage for a medal round deciding game.
Once again facing Slovenia, who had upset Sweden, a Canadian win meant playing in the gold-silver game, losing meant playing for a bronze. Although the game was close at 5-3, Canada was never behind or out of control at any time and the victory set up the final game of the tournament against the host, Team Germany.
A capacity crowd of close to 5,500 came to cheer, whistle, wave banners and add some exciting and intense atmosphere, felt by players and fans alike. Germany was led by Michael Wolf and Thomas Greilinger, players from the German National Team who played in the 2010 Olympics. They had won their quarter final round by defeating the Czech Republic 6-5 in overtime, then defeated Finland 3-2 to gain entry in the gold medal match up.
Canada started quickly, scoring in the first 30 seconds to put Germany behind and quickly built a 3-0 lead before Germany responded. In the second quarter Canada outscored Germany 2-1 but in the third quarter it became interesting as Team Germany, trailing 6-2, scored three straight goals to come within one of Team Canada.
Canada responded quickly and eight seconds later had restored a two goal cushion followed by their eighth goal four minutes later. Scoring once more in the fourth quarter, Canada held the Germans scoreless making the final 9-5 for Canada.
The tournament also had an unexpected audience when it was decided to live stream all games on the internet. Twice the feed was interrupted as viewership was larger than anticipated and servers crashed. The gold medal game was finally held to 355,000 viewers and a total of over 1.8 million had logged on to watch the week’s events.
“It was a great tournament” said Coach Jason Stephens. “Any time you can represent your country in a World Championship event and bring home a gold, I’m not sure great can express what you feel”.
“Standing on the floor with the team and singing O” Canada while the Canadian anthem plays brings tears to your eyes and such a feeling of pride, accomplishment and overwhelming emotion. It takes a while to realize just what you’ve done.”
“I can’t say enough about the team or staff and how hard they worked together to make this happen. I’m just proud to be a part of this organization and to say I had a part in this Golden moment.”