January 04, 2009

WJHC - Semi Finals: Happy Birthday!!

Happy Birthday to my sweet babu and Ryan Ellis.

And what a birthday it was.

We were at SBP for the semi-final double header and saw some good hockey and some heart-stopping exciting hockey.

The first game was the Sweden - Slovakia game. Again, we did our guess the spread thing before the game with everyone presuming that it will be Sweden but some large number. Well, Slovakia got on the board first and kept the game pretty tight until the third period when Sweden took over after being down a goal twice in the game. Jaroslav Janus' luck just ran out.

An enthusiastic Swedish fan

It was a good game to watch given the plucky play of the Slovaks but it was downright pedestrian when compared to the Canada - Russia game!!

This one was more exciting from a fan perspective than the Canada - USA game on New Year's Eve. The Russians are fast, skilled and persistent. Did I mention fast? Man they are fast. This see-saw battle had the nearly 20,000 fans of both teams on the edge of their seats for the whole game.

And talk about enthusiastic fans!! Hard to believe but I think this crowd was louder than when the Sens went on their Stanley Cup run (nearly a million years ago it seems).

I thought the Canadians were done when the Russians finally went ahead late in the game. It would be interesting to see some official stats but pulling the goalie, while a good move, generally does not produce results. But this time it worked!! Once again, young Ryan Ellis shows why Quinn made room for him on this roster when he kept the puck in, giving Tavares a chance to win the battle of the boards and throw it to the net. Eberle scored the high-light reel goal and tied it up with just over 5 seconds left in the game. The arena went wild!! Nikita Klyukin will probably see that missed EN every time he closes his eyes for a very long time.

10 minutes of fast paced, 4-on-4 overtime where Canada picked up its game and played better but still could not score. Then it was to the shoot-out which most fans agree is a lousy way to finish a good (or bad) hockey game. Especially one that matters as much as this one did.

Every time I watch a shoot-out I remember what Patrick Roy said to his goalie during his team's Memorial Cup run a few years back. His goalie was struggling and Roy took the boy's head between his hands, looked him in the eye and said "you are a wall" (in French of course). The kid was lights-out from there on. So, when the opposition is moving in on my goalie, I am sending "you are a wall" messages to my goalie while Ken is sending his best "ooga-booga" curse on the shooter. Clearly the results show how powerful we are.

High-fives, hollering, whistling, screaming, jumping, hugs and more hollering. What an ending! From a certain loss to winning the skills contest. They pulled it out of the fire.

An enthusiastic fan from up North

In other hockey news, the Ottawa 67s won their 7th game in a row (without Toffoli, Cuma and Paryzek). And the Sudbury Wolves have traded for troubled child Akim Aliu. If he keeps it together and the rumour of Filitov being sent to Sudbury is true, the Wolves will be a stronger team for sure.

Oh, and the Sens lost. Again. To Toronto. Woo Hoo!! They are quickly becoming the best at losing and are in the lottery!! That should be their goal for the rest of the season. The least they can do is lose bad enough to get a good pick.

Welcome to Hockey Country! Not for weak hearts.

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