Congratulations to Habs prospect Zach Fucale and his Team Canada teammates for collecting gold in the 2015 World Junior Championship after surviving a serious scare from a big and impressive Russian squad.
Sixty solid minutes of stress, excitement, tension, drama, and getting a big time bang for the buck, regardless if you were at the ACC in Toronto or sitting on your couch biting your fingernails.
It began with a 2-0 Canadian lead in the first few minutes, followed shortly after by a Russian goalie change, after which unfolded a hefty 5-1 lead by the team most in the building were wildly cheering for.
It was supposed to be in the bag. But the Russians didn’t get the memo.
Three goals in just over three minutes and suddenly it was 5-4 with a period to go. But Team Canada held the fort in this wildly entertaining game that was chock full of near misses, bone-rattling checks, heart-stopping action, off the charts emotion, and youthful exuberance.
When you see a hockey game like this, you know that this can be an unparalleled sport, the best sport, but only when the planets are aligned. And it was a bunch of teenagers that did the aligning.
One thing’s for sure. These once in a blue moon affairs don’t exactly make one long for a Panthers-Coyotes tilt. Or most regular season NHL games for that matter.
There was no trap. No dump the puck in all night. No going through the motions. Just massive doses of frenzied action from skilled kids who haven’t become jaded yet.
Of course a good old fashioned Habs win is always fun, but that’s a different mindset. It’s early January and the World Juniors owned the big stage. This was their time, their moment to shine. And it was all capped off in glorious fashion by wonderful gold medal hockey featuring two classic rivals.
Now we have to wait a full year to hopefully see this sort of thing again. Only a late spring parade down Ste-Catherine will help the wait.