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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

World Juniors Wind Down

The World Juniors are over and so is Canada's streak of gold medal wins, just shy of a record six in a row. It would have been amazing to see Canada set that record - especially with myself in attendance - but the pressure is finally off. Well, maybe just turned down a couple notches.

I don't know how many of you caught the game tonight (or do I...?) but if you didn't, you missed some of the most exciting hockey you'll ever see and you should be ashamed of yourself. It seems when Team USA and Team Canada meet at the World Juniors, it's destined to be a classic and this one did not disappoint. For Canadian fans, there's no way it beats their 2007 semi-final matchup, but I think US fans will be happy to call this one their favorite.

Before the puck dropped, I had a feeling Team USA would win - and I have the winnings to prove it - but damned if Canada didn't still have some magic left in the tank. Or maybe it was just Jordan Eberle that did.

Jordan Eberle has been a god amongst teenagers these last two tournaments and what I wouldn't give to see him back for one more run. Instead, I'll be falling out of love with him while he provides some of that magic to the Edmonton Oilers next season.

Unfortunately Eberle's dramatics weren't enough this time, but I was very happy for Team USA as they celebrated. Throughout the tournament they faced adversity, pushed it all aside, bonded together and came away with a hard-fought gold medal win. No better way to do it.

I was at the rink nearly every day these last two weeks and it was an utterly enjoyable, if not mildly exhausting, way to spend a vacation. Not only did I work with great volunteers, but I got to meet the great talent that makes TSN run as tight as it does. And I even got to rub shoulders with Ray Bourque. Literally. Eat your hearts out, Avs fans.

I do have a few notes to share before I sign off and hopefully fall back into a normal routine.

First, to everyone who decried the Canadians fans as unclassy - that'll be enough, eh? Yes, they boed the US in every game they played, even against Team Sweden who was the only other real contender the US faced.

There was no doubt Team USA was the rival for Team Canada this tournament and the fans recognized it from the start. But when all was said and done, the 15,000 strong stood up and gave kudos to an extremely talented US squad. There wasn't a boo bird in the house once all was said and done.

Look at it the same way most people look at any sporting even. When you're in the thick of the battle, there are only enemies. But once all is said and done, you shake hands and say "Well played."

The fans at this tournament showed amazing support for their team and for all the other teams as well. Nino Neiderreiter (no spell-checking, it's too late) of Team Switzerland became a folk hero and when Team Latvia finally won a game, you would have thought Team Canada had just won the gold medal. Team Sweden also got an ovation heading off the ice after winning bronze tonight and even saluted the crowd as they left.

So don't try and tell me Canadian fans have no class.

Second, to Zach Parise - I'm a fan of yours, I love the way you play and think you're a severly under-covered star in the NHL. But your note to Team USA was just plain dumb. To say that everybody is" tired of 'Hockey Canada' and its arrogance" is as short-sighted as believing that radio jockeys pranks actually mean anything. (yes that's me commenting there)

Team USA won tonight by putting together a squad that Hockey Canada would be proud of. That's in large part because USA Hockey looked to Hockey Canada as a model for development and player selection.

Maybe you're upset that you are one of the elite talents in the game but all anyone talks about is Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. But that's not Hockey Canada's fault. Blame the media for that one,

And finally, to the referees. Never have I felt or believed that a group of referees ever had it in for a team. But after that first period, I am 100% convinced that this squad had it in for Team Canada and nobody will convince me otherwise.

And before you jump on me, I'm not blaming them for the loss. Jake Allen...er, the team..did that just fine by themselves. But I do blame the German linesman a bit (inside joke)

But what a great way to lead in to next year's tournament in Buffalo. I've already booked the days off only this time I'll be watching from my couch. Here's to the start of a new streak in 2011. Until then, enjoy being on top of the junior hockey world, USA.

8 Comments:

canucklehead_ken said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
canucklehead_ken said...

As a Canadian, I have to say, tonight, the better team won. Twice, Canada had to rely on a few key players to pull them out of a deficit. There were too many errors by our boys in both matches against Team USA and it finally cost them. It was sad watching our guys lose as there is so much pressure for them, the Canadian team, to win. But it was hard to feel bad while watching the American boys celebrate, to see them enjoy a well deserved win. These are teenagers, kids, afterall.

Having said that, Zach Parise's comment in his letter of encouragement to Team USA sounded like sour grapes. Talking about no class. To encourage your team by putting down the opponent's organization, and in such bitter words, is just pathetic. At one point, I wanted our Canadian boys to win not for our win-record and reputation but to shut Zach up.

Shane Giroux said...

Totally agreed, ken. If Blaise had started Campbell instead of Lee, this game wouldn't have been as close as it was.

Anonymous said...

Give me a break...Parise's comment was nothing but locker room pump 'em up banter...and, it is true...Hockey Canada was arrogant; it had earned the right to be: 5 golds in a row

Get a thicker skin or get out of the game....

As for officiating, let's not forget the questionable goalie interference penalty in the third period that led to Eberle's first goal...

Shane Giroux said...

I don't think Hockey Canada was ever arrogant and I spent a lot of time with Hockey Canada guys during the tournament. Maybe we have differing definitios or arrogant.

The refs did start making questionable calls against the Americans. Right after they realized how ridiculous they looked in the calls they didn't make. It was farcical officiating from the get-go, but it all started with a bend against Canada.

canucklehead_ken said...

Considering Zach Parise's dad is a Canadian former NHLer, I'm surprised he would make such comments against Hockey Canada. It's one thing to say, "kick those Canadian butts - Go USA." It's another to say we're all "tired of 'Hockey Canada' and its arrogance". The first says, "hey, you're the better team so win it for the USA". The second says, "win, so we can shut those Canadians up."

At least, that's how it comes across to me.

Shane Giroux said...

ken, I read it the exact same way and I'm not sure how anybody could see it otherwise. I suppose maybe if I was on the American side of the fence, my view might be different but I'd like to think it wouldn't be.

As for the officiating, Anonymous, like I said, I don't blame them for the loss. But I think their thought process was made pretty clear in the first period.

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