Monday, September 26, 2016
Team Europe digs deep to reach World Cup of Hockey championship series
TORONTO - Team Europe, listed in Las Vegas as a 33-1 long shot to win the World Cup of Hockey, is now just two wins away from making that happen.
Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar scored his second goal of the game 3 minutes, 43 seconds in overtime to give Europe a 3-2 win against Sweden and a place in the best of three rounds of the championship series the tournament against Canada.
"We said from the beginning, 'Play for your country," said the European coach Ralph Krueger. "When you hear the Swedish hymn, it is yours. When you hear the Czech anthem, it is yours. When you hear the Canadian anthem, it is yours. And the players have bought into it. Play together, play together with the puck, play together without the puck, fight for each other, but play for your country, and it took us a long way. "
Europeans are still considered a long shot as they head into Game 1 of the finals Tuesday (20 pm ET, ESPN).
"It's a different animal, we will face," European forward Marian Hossa said about Canada Hockey Jersey. "Everybody has to dig deep to succeed against this team. There is a next game and we're just trying to prepare ourselves against them and play a strong defensive game and you never know."
This is a team that has been dug deep since training camp began.
Europeans were supposed to be at a disadvantage during the Hockey World Cup because their average age was over 30, they had no history of playing together and had no nationalistic reason to unify a team. They looked on synchronization, and too slow, against the team 23 years old in North America in two games before the tournament.
Then they understood how they needed to play to win. They succeed by managing the puck and play defense to the best of their ability. Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi played 29 minutes against the Swedes and the Los Angeles Kings Anze Kopitar played before more than 22 minutes.
"So many players in this room understand what it takes to win at the highest level, to win at the Stanley Cup, and they have never been able to do it with a team within a team concept national or in a tournament of this nature, "said Krueger. "Once we had conversations go, it was great to experience the process."
Tatar had not scored in the first three games of the tournament, and was not satisfied with the way he played in a loss to Canada.
"I hoped that I would have the opportunity to swing a game and I'm lucky it happened today," said Tatar.
What is the secret of Team Europe?
"No secret," said the central Sweden Henrik Sedin. "They are a good team. I do not know who do not expect much from them, but if you look at their team, they are built with very good players. "
Europeans never lost faith even after the goal from defenseman Erik Karlsson, with 4:32 left in regulation, the score tied.
"We just said," We need to calm down and play our game. ' "Said Tatar.
The strength of this team has been the ability of his teammates to bind together quickly. "A good locker room," said Tatar. We have fun. Everyone is making jokes and we really like a family there. "
Jaroslav Halak European guardian of the New York Islanders made 37 saves against the Swedes. "We would not be here without fantastic goalkeepers," said Krueger.
The Europeans are so confident that they do not exclude anything.
"The story continues," said Tatar. "We know and respect Canada and how good they are, but we are together and we will fight together for a win."