International Ice Hockey Federation

We meet again...

We meet again...

Repeat or revenge?

Published 22.05.2016 11:03 GMT+3 | Author Andy Potts
We meet again...
ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - MAY 17: Finland's Mikko Koivu #9 shakes hands with Canada's Taylor Hall #4 during preliminary round action at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/HHOF-IIHF Images)
When group stage rivals come up against each other in the play-off rounds, how much impact does that previous encounter have on the final outcome?

When Finland faces off against Canada in Sunday's gold medal game it will go there with the confidence of knowing it has already defeated its opposition in group stage play. The teams met on 17 May, with Finland gaining an impressive 4-0 victory. Goals from Tommi Kivisto, Leo Komarov, Mika Pyorala and Jarno Koskiranto, plus a 21-save shutout from Mikko Koskinen helped the Finns claim top spot in Group B - and a potentially crucial psychological advantage in the gold medal game.

However, as Canada's Brad Marchand points out, it can cut both ways. Looking ahead to the final, he said: "It helps when you play a team for the second time because you know their game, but they've played against us as well. We don't exactly have a chip on our shoulder [after the first game] but of course we're all going to be excited because we're playing for a gold medal."

Marchand was a goal scorer for Canada in its semi-final victory over the USA – a repeat of the outcome of the North American teams' group stage clash, and the stats since the competition adopted its current format in 2012 show that previous form is an unreliable guide to future results.

There have been 15 'second instalments’ since the tournament in Finland and Sweden. Eight of them have produced repeat results, with seven revenge wins.

But recent World Championship history suggests that a previous victory doesn't always mean much when the rematch beckons. Since the tournament adopted its current format in 2012, 15 second instalments have produced eight repeat results and seven revenge wins.

Canada has twice been on the receiving end of a revenge result. At the quarter-final stage in both 2012 and 2013 – two years when there was no cross-over between groups until the final four – the Maple Leaf lost out to a team it had defeated in the group phase. In 2012 in Helsinki it was Slovakia that turned a 3-2 loss into a 4-3 win, then 12 months later a 3-0 group stage win over the Swedish host nation was overturned by a 3-2 knock-out defeat as the Tre Kronor went on to take gold.

More recently, though, the Canadians have doubled up - last night against the USA was a repeat of last year's semi-final success against the Czechs, where a 2-0 win on the final weekend backed up a 6-3 group stage victory.

Finland's double encounters over that time have tended to end up with repeat results – three out of four. Unfortunately, two of them ended in double defeats – in the bronze-medal game against the USA in 2013 and in the 2014 final against Russia. Earlier in 2013 the Finns posted two wins over Slovakia, while 2012 saw a turnaround from 5-0 group stage drubbing off the USA to a 3-2 victory in the quarter final.

There might be better news for the Finns when looking at the repeat finals in the 21st century. Since 2000 there have been four occasions when the teams contesting the gold medal game met earlier in the tournament – and three have them went the same way as the first instalment.

Most recently Russia completed its perfect 10 in Minsk in 2014 with a 5-2 win over Finland. In the group stage the Russians beat the Finns 4-2 as Oleg Znarok applied some balm to the wounds of Sochi with an impressive debut campaign as head coach. And, going back a few years, the finals in 2002 and 2003 both saw a repeat victory – Slovakia followed up a 6-4 qualification group win over Russia with a 4-3 success to claim its only gold, before Canada edged Sweden 3-2 in overtime shortly after a 3-0 qualification-round victory.

The only exception to the rule came in 2013 when Sweden's 5-1 victory over Switzerland decisively avenged a 3-2 loss in the group stage.


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