January 07, 2009

WJHC - Gold for Canada and Final Thoughts

Mission Accomplished!!! And in fine fashion too. Team Canada definitely left their best for last - coming together as a team in ways we had not seen previously in this tournament.

I knew we were on the right path once the Swedes had 15 shots on goal without a goal. Getting through the 4 penalties in the second sealed it. It was just a formality after that.

Sorry for the late post - it was back to work for me yesterday and I needed some time to recover.

As usual, we watched both games of the double-header. The bronze medal game between Russia and Slovakia was not much of a spirited affair. Jaroslav Janus did his best but the efficient Russians were too much. The Russians clearly weren't enthusiastic about playing for bronze and I can't blame them considering they were a mere 5.4 seconds from playing for gold. They were gracious in their win and acknowledged their most ardent fans that were concentrated in a corner of the arena.

Then it was on to the main event. There were a lot of fans for the bronze game with the numbers building steadily as the game went on. Fans were decked out in their jerseys, helmets, flags and other regalia to show their support for Team Canada. For our part, we managed to take the paper Samsung helmets and turn them into antlers (pictures later when I get them from my sister-in-law). Pretty Canadian, eh? We got many positive comments but could not convince the Islander scouts in front of us to wear them.

The energy in the building was incredible. From the beginning of the warm-up to the end of the ceremony, the fans were clear in their support. I cannot imagine what it would be like to a bunch of 18 - 20 year old Swedish players on the ice listening to the better part of 20,000 crazed fans yelling and cheering. It had to get in their heads.

The goalie was irritated right from the get-go with the early goal scored during the scrum in the blue paint. I think it threw him off his game and the rest of the team picked up on the frustration. I was surprised how chippy and edgy they played. I thought that the refs went easy on the Swedes; Hedman especially should have been thrown out for punching Esposito.

The Canadians played really well and the Swedes had no response. And as time wound down, the fans counted down with the clock and cheered the successful drive for five while the red and white tickers floated from the ceiling.

Suddenly it's over.

Final Thoughts:
  • It was a fantastic experience both as a fan and as a volunteer. Yes there some really lopsided games but it was still good to see the best teams that 10 countries could bring to Ottawa. I ended up going to 13 games while Ken made it to 15. We were able to give away or sell the rest of the tickets. Probably ended up spending more than I needed to but it was also good to count on having the same good seats throughout the tournament.
  • Witnessing Canada win a gold medal in Canada was outstanding. It was great to be part of that piece of history with about 20,000 of my best friends. Scotia Bank Place will not see the likes of it for a looooong time, if ever. I nearly went hoarse from my share of the yelling.
  • As good as it was to be there for the gold medal, it still was not as exciting and heart-stopping as the game against Russia. I will not witness anything like that in my life again.
  • Section 209 at SBP is a great place to watch hockey....unless you are a non-smoker. The smoking section is just outside the section and a very strong smoke smell invaded the area at each intermission. On the very cold days it was very very cold at our seats as the wind blew the doors open (I thought that doors had to open to the outside).
  • It really is a small world. My volunteer gig was with the Team Canada families so I had the chance to chat with many of the parents. Turns out that Tyler Ennis' dad went to the same small high school in Edmonton that I went to (a few years later than me). For the Russia game, the guys in front of us had come down from Sudbury for the game. When the Subbans were shown on the jumbotron, one of the guys mentioned that he played basketball with Carl Subban in high school in Sudbury. And another Team Canada dad explained how his family is closely tied into the family of one of the 67s. Small indeed.
  • It was lot of hockey in a short period and I thought I would have had enough. But I'm looking forward to getting back to watching the 67s at the Civic Centre. It's a fun team playing in a great arena with character and intimacy. I prefer watching games there than at the SBP.

So now it's back to the OHL where team mates are now opponents (Subban and JT). The next big event is the trade deadline this Friday.

See see you at the Civic Centre on Friday when the Niagara IceDogs and Alex Pietrangelo roll into town.

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