The first game first.
All the talk has been about this really being a four team tournament with 6 other aspiring countries hoping to improve with the experience and perhaps pull off an upset. Today, we were going to see the 4 top teams play what were supposed to be the best games of the tournament.
The Sweden - Russia game was a major let down. Sure the Russians played the day before but it was an easy romp over the Latvians that should not have left them as gassed as they looked on the ice. In truth, it was the Russian goalie that let them down. Before long, it was 4 - 0 Sweden on 12 shots with the Swedes completely controlling the play in the first. The Russian goalie was finally pulled.
Russia seemed to get its act together in the second and played stronger although they could not score. They were broken in the third when Sweden scored its fifth goal of the game.
The Swedes certainly looked solid. The spousal unit commented that they looked a lot like the Spokane Chiefs from the Memorial Cup - really tight team focus and execution.
Like many, we left at the late commercial break in the third to get a head start on the exodus to SBP for the Canada - USA game.
Now THAT was a game!!!
During the warm-up I noted Tokarski's colourful pads and recalled the conversation we had with the Vaughn goalie equipment designer at the Memorial Cup. Tokarski needs white pads!! Sure enough, the Americans went up 3 goals really quickly. Canada was so tentative and unable to organize. I wondered why Tokarski was still in net after 3 goals on 8 shots.
Then Canada found its game and we all know the outcome so I won't try to summarize. TSN has coverage enough.
I will try to share the experience. The building was electric. Standing ovations and loud cheering for the warm-up. The huge Canadian flag passed around the lower bowl. Stunned silence for the first, then second and then the unbelievable unanswered third goal (by Ottawa Senators prospect Jim O'Brien from the face-off circle). Then eruptions for the Tavares' powerplay goal, and then his even strength goal less than a minute later and finally the tying PP goal by Eberle with less than two minutes left in the period.
Man alive - we had a hockey game!!!
The first intermission saw three Traverses (we noted that with some rearranging it would be Tavares) won in the shoot-out but the million dollars was not won.
There were hits, good ones with roars of approval and bad ones. Nasty displays of unsportsmanlike conduct including DiDimenco getting the blade of a stick in the face as he skated by the US bench and Della Rovere chirping and gesturing the US bench after a nasty hit from behind that should have had him ejected. He's a bit of a hot head. Think he had his butt stapled to the bench after his antics. His bad penalties were also an issue in the last game.
There was controversy with the time keepers. A fight in the lower bowl. The police cuffed and removed a rowdy fan.
Game saving save by Tokarski!!!
The spousal unit thought that the US team came out flat in the third. I was sure they were going to tie up the game - I lost the bet (the bet is always for beer).
Hats on the ice for JT's hat trick!!
Two empty net goals? I was surprised that Rolston kept his goalie out after the first EN.
Fans standing and cheering during the dying seconds.
Another single game attendance record at over 20,000 fans!! Most of them still at their seats singing the national anthem as the flag of the winning team was raised!
The game sheets for all the games are here.
Some pics taken with a friend's little digital camera.
Welcome to Hockey Country and Happy New Year everyone!!!