Team Canada got off to a great start at the World Junior Hockey Championships on Boxing day with a 6-3 win over their arch rivals from Russia. Give some props to Canada, they overcame giving up the first goal in this game early to the Russians and overcame some very ugly and sloppy play in the first 15 minutes of the hockey game. Canada looked a bit nervous, much like most Canadian teams do early in most tournaments hosted at home. Speaking of home, seeing as the tournament was in Buffalo, one would think that the arena would be split up amongst both American and Canadian fans. Buffalo, New York, felt like Buffalo, Ontario as Gord Miller so properly put it. A sea of red and white was seen all throughout the day, even in the Swiss/Germany game and in the USA/Finland game. The place was rockin’ for the Canada and I can only imagine, much like my experience in Vancouver during the Olympics, the noise level at Canada Games will get higher and the crowd more intense.
Canada got some balanced scoring in their opener with six different goal scorers and had the 6th man, in the home crowd behind them. After getting their emotions in check, Canada played a very gritty and physical game against the talented and fast Russian team. I loved the work of Casey Cizakas on the Penalty Kill alongside a few others. Sometimes it seems like the guys out killing penalties don’t get all the respect needed. Ryan Ellis used his experience to calm the team down and lead by example, he scored a goal and played with a calm attitude that seem to bring Canada some confidence. Olivier Roy bounced back after giving up the first goal of the game to play a steady game between the pipes, despite giving up a soft second goal. Overall you have to think that the nerves of these young men early in the tournament against a very skilled Russian team held up well and can be a great building block as the tournament continues
Team Canada should build from this win in their next game against the Czech Republic on Tuesday afternoon. After that its Norway on Wednesday night and the much anticipated game against a strong Swedish team on New Years Eve.
Switzerland barely hung on to beat Germany 4-3 in the tournament opener. Switzerland scored 4 goals in the first period, including a beauty by Nino Niederreiter, to give the Swiss what started to look like an early win. Germany played very well in the last 40 minutes of the game outshooting the Swiss 30-11 in those two periods and came very close to tying the game a couple of times very late in the 3rd period.
The United States survived a scare from Finland as they edged them 3-2 in overtime. The Finns played a good game in not allowing the Americans to play a physical game. Goaltender Joni Ortio, was superb for most of the night for Finland until giving up a weak goal between the five hole in OT to give the Americans the win.
About the Author
Written by George Kouvalis
A huge fan of sports who loves to travel for major events. I've seen my fair share of major games and events including three Olympics, Wimbledon, The Masters etc.... Always up for a road trip or a drink to talk over sports or pro wrestling, in any city I am in or online. Favorite Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Bulls, San Francisco 49ers, Toronto Argonauts, Manchester United, and of course the teams I blog for, the Texas Rangers and Buffalo Sabres. Follow me on twitter at the handle georgekouvalis