EVERETT – Former Silvertips defenseman Ivan Baranka and Team Slovakia won the Silver Medal at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Helsinki, Finland on Sunday. After beating current Silvertips defenseman Ryan Murray and Team Canada in the quarterfinals, Slovakia advanced to the Gold Medal Game for the first time since 2002 before falling to tournament Champion Russia.
After winning five of seven preliminary round games, the Slovaks upset the Canadians 4-3 in the quarterfinal round. Canada hadfinished first in the Helsinki group with a 6-0-1 preliminary round record. Slovakia then defeated their neighbors from the Czech Republic 3-1 in the semifinals to advance to the Gold Medal Game, where they were beaten by Russia 6-2. The Russians finished undefeated in the tournament, becoming the first team since the 1989 World Championship to win all ten of its games in regulation. The Czech Republic took home the Bronze Medal with a 3-2 win against Finland.
Baranka was a top defensive performer for Slovakia during the tournament, finishing with a +5 rating and three assists while averaging over 18 minutes per game on the blueline. The former New York Rangers prospect played for the Silvertips during the first two years of the team’s existence from 2003 to 2005. He then spent three years in the American Hockey League before returning to Europe, where he has skated in the KHL in each of the last four seasons.
After being a late addition to Canada’s active roster, Ryan Murray played over 17 minutes and finished +1 while pairing with Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks in a 3-2 victory over Slovakia on the first day of competition. He then served mostly as a seventh defenseman in Canada’s next three games: a 5-4 overtime loss to Team USA, a 7-2 win against France and a 3-2 win vs. Switzerland during which he was on the ice for Ryan Getzlaf’s game-winning goal. Between sitting out victories over Finland and Belarus, Murray was in the lineup playing nearly 12 minutes and finishing +1 in an 8-0 drubbing of Kazakhstan on Saturday. He dressed for the quarterfinal loss to Slovakia, but played only one first-period shift as Canada came up just short.
Murray was the second-youngest player ever to suit up for Canada’s Men’s National Team in the World Championship tournament, with only Paul Kariya skating as a younger 18-year-old in 1993. Originally expected to participate only in Canada’s pre-competition camp and exhibition games in Switzerland, a number of injuries on the Canadian roster opened the door for Murray’s debut in men’s international play. His inclusion came just months after he was Canada’s youngest player at the World Junior Championships. The Silvertips’ captain and 2011-2012 Most Valuable Player was the only non-NHL player on Team Canada’s active roster.
CLICK HERE for a full recap of the 2012 IIHF World Championship tournament.