One win. That’s it. That is all that separates Team Canada from bringing a Gold Medal back to the Great White North after a very dominating 4-1 win over the “host” and defending champions USA. I say host as Buffalo, NY looks more like Buffalo, Ontario since day one of this tournament. Every game in this tournament has been dominated by red and white Canada jerseys, even the games not involving Team Canada. Seeing as 65% of the ticket packages sold were sold to Canadians it looks like no surprise. You could really see this reflected during the US/Canada Semi Final game on Monday night. Tournament organizers handed out USA Flags and garb to all that wanted it when they entered the arena. Most of that merchandise was no where to be seen and faint chants of “USA USA” were quickly drowned out by chants of “CANADA” and “THIS IS OUR HOUSE!” (A TFC staple) Whichever way you look at it Canadians have been dominating on the ice and especially off the ice in this tournament the last couple of days.
Team Canada faced some adversity after losing to Sweden in a shootout on New Years Eve and showed alot of character bouncing back in the quarter and semi final. They easily outshot a very stingy and tough Swiss team, who for the most part kept Canada well to the perimeter and saw most of their shots come from outside that perimeter. The Swiss it seems recently always play the Canadians tight. From Olympic to World Championship competition.
Alot of questions remained of this Canadian team going into the Semi Finals against the rival Americans. Did they have the talent? Do they have the discipline? The Drive? The Goaltending? All of those questions were answered with a resounding YES on Monday night. Mark Visentin played remarkably well and made the big saves when called upon, which wasn’t much on this night, so much so he was made the Man of the Match. Canada kept out of the penalty box, aside from a phantom slash that was called you could say that Canada kept its cool about them and didn’t get suckered into anything the US tried to do. As for talent and secondary scoring, Canada showed it had it last night, outplaying, out hustling, out hitting, out shooting and out working the Americans into the ground. American goalie Jack Campbell kept the game close, without him it could have turned into a 7-1 or 8-1 game. Campbell basically showed the American team reaction to the outcome post game by burying his head into his chest just staring down towards the ice. The look of shock became evident and the US had no answers or excuses. When one american players says “They outworked us, its hard to say it but they did” it about sums it all up. Canada wanted it more and they got the job done.
Now its on to a very talented Russian team. If you will remember I said that they should be in the discussion about winning a medal. Russia has pulled out 2 miracle wins in their last 2 games, culminating with a shootout win over Sweden and an improbable come from behind win over Finland. The Russians move the puck well out of their zone and have an abundance of speed that can make even the best defenses look bad. Canada will have to stay disciplined and out of the box to contain the Russian attack. They will also need a very hard forecheck, much like they had in the US game to keep the Russians from breaking out effectively. Visentin will have to have his best game of the tournament to keep the Russians in check and off the scoresheet. Canada needs to peak during the this game. The way the Russians were celebrating after their win over Sweden it seems as if they have already won the whole tournament. It looked a bit excessive and drew the ire of some Swedish players during the post game ceremonies. Either way, we should be in for another dandy Canada/Russia game to decide a Gold Medal.
Not without controversy? Russia scored their second goal of the game on what looked to be an icing call against them. The puck sped by goalie Robin Lehnar and looked like it was going to be called icing, it wasn’t, and the Russian player won the battle behind the net and centered the puck to set up the second Russia goal. Lehnar’s comments after the game “The fu#$ing refs have a double standard. They can’t scream icing then call it off. That’s not the refereeing standards in a tournament like this. It wouldn’t have happened if Canada was playing thats for sure“ Some sour grapes from Lehnar to say the least, he did have a case. But what about complaining about the 2 bad goals you let in or the battle that was lost behind the net to set up that goal.
Tickets! Who needs Tickets! – As of Monday morning there had been over 2000 tickets available to the Canada/USA Semi Final. The game was a sell out by 6pm which was great for tournament organizers who are getting $95 a seat face value for the Semi final in the upper 300 levels. The Gold Medal game appears to be a sellout as well, as no tickets are available on Tickets.com, the official ticketing company of the World Jrs. A buddy that sit behinds us sold his pair for $400 for the gold medal game and that was during the second intermission of the Canada/USA game on Stubhub. Good news is that there are PLENTY of tickets left for the Bronze medal game between the US and Sweden.
Border Patrol – Kudos to the staffs at each border we have crossed at for getting organized and trying to maintain a stream of traffic for this tournament. The Peace Bridge has been moving traffic to exit 8 instead of exit 7 to keep it moving and from stopping the traffic on the I-190. Border crossings have been much more fun with this instead of a consistent 2 hour wait like it was with the early stages of the tournament, which was mostly due to other volume from tourists, shoppers and fans from the tournament.
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