Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A Game For The Ages

The 2010 World Junior Championship could have been another snoozer. Canada could have blown everyone away and win their sixth straight gold medal in this tournament and we could have all called it a day. But what fans didn't count on was the two epic games these two teams played. One for first place in the round robin, the other for the gold medal.

Canada played almost a "Oh hum, here we go again" tournament before they played the USA. Canada went on to win games 16-0 against Latvia, 6-0 versus Swizterland, and 8-2 against the Slovakians. Other teams cowered before the Maple Leaf logo. But the dominance seemed to falter on New Year's Eve.

The Americans took it to Canada jumping to a quick 4-2 lead and seemed to have everything under control in the third. Perhaps it was that bit of over confidence that was USA's downfall. The lead would be consumed by Canada's talented forwards. USA would fall in the shootout and Team Canada would win the round and, more important, get a day of rest.

For the USA, the path would not be an easy one to make it to the gold medal game. They had to play the next day in an elimination game against Finland, then try to defeat a heavily favored Sweden the next night. Team USA defeated the odds by handling the Fins 6-2 and made it to the gold medal game by upsetting the Swedes with 3 third period goals.

For the Canadians, the path was a bit easier. They got the day of rest between the round robin and the elimination games and faced a easy target in Switzerland who had upset Russia in the previous round. Canada skipped their way into the gold medal game by drubbing the Swiss 6-1.

That set up for an epic gold medal game between the two rivals. There were four game tying goals, two lead changes, USA going up 5-3 and Canada storming back to take the game into overtime. The excitement grew with each goal, the anticipation was palpable. Whether it was Canada or the USA who scored the winning goal, this was a very special game to watch, even more special to see a team you root for is playing in a game of this magnitude.

In the end, it was a Caps' prospect that had to be talked into playing in the tournament by his teammates in Hershey. John Carlson scored the game winning overtime goal to cap a riveting series between the two teams and where Canada won the round robin, the USA was more than happy to take home the gold.

Games like the one between Canada and the USA for the WJC gold medal come few and far between. It is a game in the hockey world that will be talked about for sometime, until the next WJC, of course. NHL Network will replay the game today at 6 pm if you missed any of the action. Even if you know the outcome, it's worth a look as both countries have much to be proud of in a game such as this.

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