December 27, 2008

WJHC - Day 1

31 games, 10 teams, 1 city. If you purchased a full package you cannot physically see all the games that you paid for.

No sweat - we sat down and cherry picked the games we want to see and sold or gave away the rest. I will get to 14 games while the rest of our group takes in 16 (I chose volunteer shifts that keep me from the Slovakia - Latvia game today and the Russia - Finland game tomorrow). The 16 games chosen covers seeing every team at least once.

Day 1 had us camped out at SBP to watch the Germany - USA game and the marquee event - Canada versus the Czech Republic.

I won't go through game summaries as there are lots of folks who can do a better job of it than I can. You can check out TSN, the Ottawa Citizen, the Ottawa Sun or Hockey Canada for stories, videos and pictures.

Here's how it was from my perspective:
  • The Germany - USA game looked like it might be close when it started. The German goalie, Timo Pielmeier made some outstanding saves to keep his team in the game. But the Americans got it together and started piling up the goals. All in all it wasn't a very exciting game - and not just because of the score. It wasn't nearly as skilled an fast as I expected it. The spousal unit commented that the Windsor Spitfires or the Ottawa 67s on a good day could have taken either team.
  • There seemed to be more fans supporting the German team (colours, flags, etc.) than the American team. I ran into a colleague all decked out in his German regalia. He was born in Germany and decided to cheer for his birth country.
  • Although reported attendance was over 18,000, there were not 18,000 butts in seats. But it was still a good crowd.
  • The second game started with much more excitement, of course. As Alan Panzeri reported in the Ottawa Citizen, up to now, there hasn't much to cheer about in SBP for a long while so there could have been some pent-up hollering that escaped from the excited fans.
  • This game was entirely different than the earlier game. I thought the Czechs were more physical, faster and more skilled than either of the teams in the first game. At least to start the game. After the first period it looked like it could go either way. But as we all know now, that didn't last long. Team Canada started asserting itself and basically took over all of the ice. It would be interesting to see the stats on puck possession but I would hazard a guess that Team Canada didn't share it too much with the Czechs.
  • I was really happy when Esposito got his first goal, and the third goal of the game. Finally!
  • Popular pre-tournament thinking was that Ryan Ellis would be used primarily for the PP but Quinn had him out there for 5-on-5 play as well. Results: a goal and an assist - both at even strength.
  • I hate it when the goalie leaves his crease for no good reason and when Tokarski took his little walk with two minutes left I knew something bad would happen. He had no idea that there was a Czech player in the slot. It was a perfect pass from the corner. I imagine he won't let his mind (and hopefully his legs) wander like that again any time soon.
  • It was really cold in SBP! Really really cold. Especially for the first game. I ran into Pete, a 67s regular and a pretty hearty fellow and he also noted how cold it was. We used our Canadian flag as a blanket across our knees to keep us warm. More layers next time.
  • With two minutes remaining in third period of the first game, the arena announcer announced it, except that he goofed at first and said "last two minutes of the first period". It took him a couple of tries to get it right. It probably didn't help that he was also getting information about a two minute penalty at the same time. We laughed at the mix up. Then Stuntman Stu did the exact same thing in the second game (including getting the period wrong). He is recovery was more graceful. There must be some requirement to announce the final two minutes of the game in international rules. For a moment I though that they might have had the NFL dancing in their heads.
  • When will politicians realize that hockey and politics don't mix. Making the player of the game awards for the Canada - Czech game were Eugene Melnyk, John Baird and some other guy. Melnyk and the other guy got warm applause when they were introduced. Baird got booed. Was he not paying any attention during the US election?? Guess the photo-op was too good to pass up.
  • A Maple Leafs hockey fan was a couple of rows ahead of us. He had taped the name "Tavares" on the back of his jersey. I didn't have the heart to point out Ottawa stands a better chance of snagging this draft pick.
  • It was good to hear that the ATU respected the terms the court set out regarding picketing at the Civic Centre.

This is just the start of the hockey madness that will grip the region until January 5th. The Bell Cup starts tomorrow so the city will be wall-to-wall with players, families and fans.

Welcome to Hockey Country!!

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