COLE’S NOTES: Gold medal marathon one for the ages
That's the only word that I can muster after watching that Gold Medal game between USA and Canada at the World Juniors.
Going into the game the USA was the best team in the tournament but all the winning vibe felt like it was in Canada's corner.
That is how the game began, actually. With a flurry of lopsided action, in favour of Canada, that I can only describe as spastic. They weren't playing fundamental hockey but they had so much energy and so much speed that Canada was able to jump out to a two-goal lead in the first.
From there it was a roller coaster ride that saw Canada blow two two-goal leads and eventually lose in a shootout.
I knew Canada would have to play a complete team game, take advantage when they had the man advantage and make better passes in their own zone. Well the complete team game was there but unfortunately the other two elements were not.
Yes, I know they scored a Power Play goal, to go up 3-2, but they had five chances.
A lot of the errant passes in their own zones seemed to be more because they weren't keeping the puck along the boards or players were moving out of the zone before the puck.
What I found myself doing a lot watching this game was reminding myself that these players are teenagers, because they played like it. Both teams did. And what came of it was one of the most entertaining games we've ever seen in the World Junior tournament.
A lot of people, whether it be fans, analysts, or players, say that they hate that games end in shootouts. I, on the other hand, think it is a great way to finish a game in this tournament.
They jam pack a bunch of games into two weeks and have a three-round playoff schedule run in just four days. Watching players skate at about 50 per cent of what they are normally capable of giving and staying up into the early hours of the next morning to see who wins doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
Don't get me wrong, I will always be the one staying up to watch the final out in a World Series no matter how many innings it takes. No matter how many overtime periods it takes in the NHL, NBA and NFL finals, or most playoff games, I am there... in my usual spot on the couch.
But for a tournament played by young athletes who have a whole career ahead of them and a lengthy junior hockey schedule to get back to it seems smart not to risk their mental and physical strength to entertain us with overtime period upon overtime period.
Team Canada and its fans consider anything less than a gold a failure but considering we finished in sixth last year I am very proud to have a medal at the end of this tournament.
It makes it a smidgen easier to swallow this loss knowing that eight players could return to next year’s team. That doesn't help you? Well I tried.
Another tournament is in the books and we can say, for another year, that our team was part of the best game of the whole thing.
Unfortunately we were not on the winning side of it, this time.
Still proud of you boys. Congratulations on your Silver Medal.
P.S. The Columbus Blue Jackets fell one game short of the longest winning streak in NHL history tonight. Thankfully for me I had Washington's goalie Holtby who earned a shutout to stop said streak. Quite the ride for a team who very few hockey fans actually take seriously. I'll be honest when I say I'm glad they didn't beat it. It just doesn't sound right.
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