After spoiling Canadian hockey fans with five straight gold medals at the IIHF World Junior Championship, the Canadian National Junior Team hasn't produced a memorable finish for its rabid followers the past three years.
First there was a 6-5 overtime loss to the United States in the 2010 gold-medal match in Saskatchewan, followed by an inexcusable meltdown in the third period against the Russians in the 2011 gold-medal game in Buffalo when Canada yielded five unanswered goals on 10 shots in a 5-3 defeat.
Last year marked the first time in 11 years Canada would not play for the gold medal at the 10-team competition after dropping a 6-5 semifinal decision to Russia in Calgary. Russia would lose to Sweden in overtime, 1-0, in the gold-medal game, while Canada took home the bronze with a 4-0 win over Finland.
One of the most memorable quotes following Russia's victory over Canada was provided by captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov.
"We just won, and that question [of who is the better team] has become clear, so we're stronger than Canada," Kuznetsov said. "We're happy. I'm glad that Canada will not win gold this year."
There's no question Canada would enjoy ending the heartache on Russian soil with this year's tournament held in Ufa.
Canada will join Russia, the United States, Slovakia and Germany in Group B at the 2013 WJC. Preliminary-round games start Wednesday at 7,950-seat Ufa Arena.
Here's a breakdown of the five teams competing in Group B. The top-seeded team from the group will earn a bye into the semifinals of the medal round. The second- and third-place teams play cross-over quarterfinal contests with Group A.