It’s a tough way to lose a hockey tournament. Even tougher when you’re the guy with a chance to win it.
Vernon’s Andrew Ebbett, the 15th shooter in the post-overtime shootout, was stopped by goalie Denis Godla as KalPa Kuopio of Finland defeated Team Canada 2-1 in the final of the annual Spengler Cup International Hockey Tournament in Davos, Switzerland New Year’s Eve.
The loss denied Canada a fourth consecutive Spengler Cup title, and also stopped Canada’s record 12-game winning streak during the event.
Ebbett, who turned 36 Jan. 2, was looking for a third straight Spengler Cup title. He tried to slip a backhand through the legs of Godla on his shootout attempt.
“I’m sure I have been in a long shootout like that before. It’s a tough way to lose a tournament, especially when you’re representing Team Canada,” said Ebbett, who played in more than 200 NHL games with six franchises before heading to Switzerland, where he plays professionally with SC Bern.
“I was thinking five-hole the whole way just because of how aggressive the goalie was. I thought I made a good move and there was a lot of room. Unfortunately I just slid it back across the grain too far and his back leg was able to make the save.”
Godla, from Slovakia, was the MVP of the World Junior Hockey Championships in 2015, held in Toronto and Montreal.
The final was scoreless heading into the third period. Former NHL-er Daniel Winnik opened the scoring for Canada but the Finnish club tied it with seven minutes remaining.
Zach Boychuk and Cory Emmerton added goals in the shootout for the Canadians, who had four chances to win their fourth consecutive tournament title but couldn’t find a way past Godla, who finished with 39 saves in regulation and overtime before stopping six of eight in the shootout.
Chris DiDomenico, Boychuk, Zac Dalpe and Emmerton all had the championship on their stick, but it was Jaakko Rissanen who scored the winner, beating Canadian netminder Zach Fucale with a quick shot to the glove side on the 16th attempt.
“This team had a lot of leadership and experience,” said Ebbett, who was named to the Canadian Olympic team that won bronze in Sochi, Russia in 2018, based partially on his play at the Spengler Cup.
“It was a little different than last year since last year was the last tournament before the Olympic selections. For me, I was able to just enjoy having my family up there with me and have some fun without as much stress as last year.”
Canada beat the hosts HC Davos 2-1 to open the 2018 Spengler Cup, and completed the preliminary round with a 6-2 win over Germany’s Nurnburg Ice Tigers to advance directly to the semifinals. Canada again dispatched the Ice Tigers 4-2 to move to the final.
Ebbett finished the tournament with three points, one goal and two assists, before returning to his club team, SC Bern.
“I’m still having a lot of fun here in Bern,” he said. “I just signed a two-year extension during the Christmas break so I’m very happy. We’re in second place right now. We’ve won (the Swiss A League) two of my first three years here and we’re going to have a good chance at winning a third title in four years.”
Armstrong’s Aaron Gagnon, making his Team Canada debut, played in three of four games at the Spengler Cup, but did not register a point.
Gagnon is third in team scoring with the Langnau Tigers in the Swiss A League with seven goals and six assists for 13 points in 17 games. Gagnon is teammates in Langnau with DiDomenico.