Thursday, January 05, 2006

World Junior Hockey: Canada takes Gold!

Man that was one hell of a game. I only wish I could have been there. My parents had tickets so I'm sure that they had a great time. It's been several hours since the game ended but I'm still giddy on the adrenaline high, smilin' pearly whites at the cat.

While reading this though, please keep in mind that I'm a hockey amateur. I know practically nothing about the game. I had to get my mom to explain what Offside meant. I know, I know, it's embarassing but hey, I'm woman enough to admit my shortcomings. Though it's quite sad when your own mother has to explain something like that. But I've only recently become interested so I'm the least knowlegeable one in the family.

Anyway, back to the game. Before the puck was actually dropped everyone was saying the Canadians were the "underdogs", that no one expected them to even make it to the gold medal game. The Russians were big favourites, having eight players returning from last year and having the same 5-0 record that Canada did going into the game. The US was expected to win gold but something wonky happened and when they played Switzerland, a team they should have beaten handily, they lost.

Several TSN personalities said that was the turning point with the result being that the Americans were fatigued going into the bronze medal game againt Finland. It was their third game in four days and there's no way you're going to play your best game if you're tired. Plus, Finland's goalie, Tuukka Rask was amazing. He's probably the only reason they got to the bronze medal game. He also received the goalie of the tournament. But I was still surprised when the US lost to them 4-2. I mean, usually it's Canada, Russia and the US in the top slots.

So why did this particular Canadian team end up taking the tournament with a 6-0-0 record? I have two words for you. Brent Sutter. I swear that man is a hockey god in diguise. He is the only coach to have led Canada to back-to-back victories. He has a 12-0 record at the World Junior's and the grapevine has it that he's already been asked back for next year. Apparently he hasn't given his answer yet. I had the good fortune to watch the exhibition game between Russia and Canada and saw Brent Sutter in person. Well, actually, it was more like the back of his head but still, it was really cool.

In a way, this win was sweeter than last year when everyone was quite sure Canada would take gold. I think the reason was because this team had no superstars, no fancy-shmance puck stuff. They won because of grit and hard work. They were a scruffy bunch of guys compared to last year's slick team.

There was some controversy on a Russian shot on goal that actually turned out to be a goal. On reviews, it was clear that Pogge had just missed it but not even the ref caught it and play resumed. It was only later that it was discovered and there wasn't anything anyone could do. Apparently Russian officials were bugging the TSN guys for tapes of the goal.

The only real blemish I could see in the tournament was in the game between Russia and the US. By the end, fans were booing the US openly. Apparently, they were also cheering for Russian goals. In all honesty, what the heck is wrong with you people? First of all, why are you punishing a bunch of teenage hockey players for the way you may feel about the US government? The US team has nothing to do with that. Second, I would expect the crowd to act in a sportsmanlike manner. But then again, I believe that the majority of people from the crowd were Vancouverites and we all know how well you took your Stanley Cup loss in 1994.


kelly said...

I think they were booing because the US were the favourites going into the game. So when they started chanting "over rated", that's what that meant. I didn't know about the booing though, that shows a distinct lack of class.

The duck thief said...

They were booing whenever Jack Johnson got the puck because of the pot shot he took at Steve Downie. They also cheered whenever a US guy got body-slammed into the boards.

I didn't know what they were chanting though. I taped the US-Russia game but I couldn't make out what they were saying so thanks for letting me know.

It really bugs me though and I completely agree that it shows a lack of class. The WJHC was held in Canada and our reputation was on the line as the host country. Plus, what happens if the US creams us at the Olympics? They might want to win that much more to show us how wrong we were about their team.