International Ice Hockey Federation

Shootouts full of surprises

Shootouts full of surprises

Cool facts about game-winning shots

Published 06.05.2017 17:42 GMT+2 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Shootouts full of surprises
Some would argue that Denmark (pictured: Nicklas Jensen against Latvian goalie Elvis Merzlikins) is the top shootout nation in IIHF World Championship play. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
When Artemi Panarin gave Russia a 2-1 shootout win over Sweden with a nifty move to kick off the 2017 tournament in Cologne, it didn’t come as any surprise.

After all, Panarin had a whopping 80 percent conversion rate in shootouts this season with the Chicago Blackhawks, scoring four times on five attempts.

However, in general, shootouts at the IIHF World Championship are full of surprises. For instance, the greatest shootout nation in Worlds history is arguably (wait for it) Denmark.

Yes, the Czechs have the most all-time shootout wins (9-6), and Finland’s not far behind (7-6). But Denmark has the most impressive winning percentage (5-1) – unless you care to advocate for the perfection of host France with a more limited sample (3-0).

You could easily adapt the classic line from The Princess Bride, “Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line,” for IIHF purposes: “Never go in against a Dane when a shootout is on the line.”

Denmark’s prowess in this situation is recent, too, with two shootout wins coming in 2011, one in 2014, and two in 2016. Veteran NHLer Mikkel Boedker has been a go-to guy, giving his team 4-3 victories over Germany (2011) and the Czechs (2014).

Oddly, despite being perennial medal contenders, neither Canada (3-5) nor Sweden (3-6) thrives in shootouts. However, Canada boasts the distinction of being the only nation to win gold in a shootout since the IIHF instituted game-winning shots competitions back in 1992.

In the 1994 final against Finland, Luc Robitaille scored the deciding goal to give Canada its first world title in 33 years, ending a drought dating back to the 1961 Trail Smoke Eaters.

No player in IIHF history has scored more than two shootout winners. Besides Boedker, the list includes names as diverse as Austria’s Konstantin Komisarek, Finland’s Joonas Donskoi, and Latvia’s Aleksandrs Nizivijs.

If you ask American fans, the biggest two-time shootout hero ever might be defenceman Andy Roach. Using wild dekes, he scored to beat the host Czechs 3-2 in the 2004 quarter-finals and the Slovaks 1-0 in the bronze medal game.

However, Czech fans would advocate passionately for the late Jan Marek. In 2010, the KHL sniper’s shootout goals toppled the Finns (2-1) in the quarter-finals and the Swedes (3-2) in the semi-finals before the stunning 2-1 gold medal triumph over a stacked Russian team. (Tragically, Marek died in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash in 2011.)

Some years, we end up with a cornucopia of shootouts. The most ever was eight in 2011 and 2015. Last year was close, with seven. Whether or not it’s your favourite way to end a hockey game, it’s hard to deny the drama when victory or defeat is just a shot away in a one-on-one confrontation.


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