Category Archives: World Junior Championship

Finnish Gold

Congratulations to the Finnish juniors for capturing gold in the 2014 World Junior Championships in Malmo, Sweden, where there sure were a lot of blond-haired fans in the seats.

The Finns scored in overtime against Sweden, and such a disappointed bunch of kids were the Swedes as they stood along the blueline and watched their Helsinki rivals celebrate.

Earlier, the Canadian boys weren’t exactly doing cartwheels after dropping a 2-1 decision to the Russians in the bronze medal game.

It must sting like crazy.

Win or lose, I’m in awe of every player in this tournament. To be able to play at this level……..

Next year it’s in Montreal and Toronto. Can’t wait.

 

Canadian Boys Fall To Finns

Canada and Russia battling for bronze isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I said I was hoping for the two to play each other in the World Junior Championships.

But that’s what it’ll be, after Canada fell to Finland 5-1 today, as sad as it is to say. And I hope the old adage about things happening in threes isn’t true, because otherwise, the Habs are screwed this evening.

With all due respect to the Swedes and Finns, the gold medal game won’t be nearly as sexy now. Unless you’re a Swede or Finn of course.

But the reality is, and I’m not the first or the last to say this, the drama is in a good old-fashioned Canada-Russia, or U.S.-Russia, or Canada-U.S. showdown.

Unless you’re a Swede or Finn of course.

Proud of the Canadian boys regardless. They’re awesome. And while they’re still there, they might as well grab the bronze.

Not Quite For Russian Juniors

I was leaning toward Russia in today’s World Junior semi finals action against Sweden, mainly because Luci’s Russian, and of course the idea of a possible Canada-Russia gold medal match-up.

Even though the true Canada-Russia novelty wore off years ago.

Canada still needs to beat Finland later today and Russia needed to overcome a strong Swedish bunch, which they didn’t do. So the original plan is out the window.

It wasn’t to be for the Russian juniors as Sweden held on for a 2-1 win, and it’s not the end of the world for me, considering a couple of Swedes are Habs draft choices, including big Jacob De La Rose, a 6’03” 187 lb left winger, and right winger Sebastian Collberg, who checks in at 5’11”, 175 lbs.

We also saw a little nastiness at the end, a sweet reminder that Sweden and Russia aren’t exactly crazy about each other. Maybe it goes back to the late 1700s when the two were at war and St. Petersburg was forced to build a beautiful fortress to keep the blond-haired foreigners from sailing down the Neva river and pillaging and doing other nasty deeds.

Good day for hockey. Two junior tilts and the Habs clashing with the Senators. Makes it hard to fit in grocery shopping, which is going to happen anyway, as long as the car starts.

So it’ll be Sweden against either Canada or Finland. Now I’m forced to drive Luci to the Russian grocery store in Brossard so she can pick up some fish and kalbasa. I’m sticking with cheeseburgers.

Below, St. Petersburg’s Peter Paul Fortress. I have an original nail from the Fortress, which Luci’s son Denis found near the top of the steeple when he was helping to fix it up.

Peter and Paul Fortress

 

Fucale And Company Stop Yanks

Fucale

My site was down for a bit (something about the server), but it’s back and at least now I can say what a great game the Canada-US tilt was, with the Americans starting strong but Canada, with Habs prospect Zach Fucale coming up with big saves and looking more than steady, would pick it up several notches and skate away with a 3-2 win which gives them first place in their division.

Fucale, from Rosemere, Quebec, (where Guy Lafleur lives), was picked by the Canadiens at number 36 in the 2013 draft.

Nothing like a good old Canada-US nail biter on New Year’s Eve. It was edge-of-the-seat action. Worlds apart from what we’ve seen from Zach’s future team lately.

Maybe tonight will be different.

 

A New Year Comin’ Up Fast

Canada plays the U.S. today in World Junior action, and it’s the Habs in Carolina this evening to meet the Hurricanes.

It’s a good hockey day, and even better if both Canada and the Canadiens win.

But before all this action takes place, I’d like to wish everyone a very great 2014. I hope it becomes a terrific year for you and yours.

2013 was a big year for Luci and I. I retired from B.C. Ferries, packed up things in Powell River, and we drove across the country to start anew in Montreal. And even with the frosty air and slippery streets, we both agree that it’s been just great and we’re excited about the new year.

Again, from me to you, happy 2014. Be safe and have fun.

Canada Loses In Shootout

Another one of those fun to watch World Junior games. Unfortunately, at least for those of us cheering for Team Canada in today’s game against the Czech Republic, the good guys would lose 5-4 in the shootout.

They kept falling behind and tying it, but in the end it wasn’t to be.

So much skill and passion from these kids. It never gets old watching them. And the Canadians had their chances but it just wasn’t to be.

There’s going to be some criticism I guess. Maybe the goaltending could’ve been sharper. Maybe Anthony Mantha shouldn’t have touched the puck when going off the ice which led to a too many men penalty and a Czech goal.

Regardless, all these kids in this tournament are brilliant and I’m full of admiration for the whole bunch of them.

Some Habs connections:

Alma, QC’s Charles Hudon drafted 122nd in 2012, tied the score at four apiece.

Zachary Fucale could be between the pipes on Monday when the boys clash with Slovakia (11:30 ET). Fucale, from Rosemere, QC, was taken 36th by the Canadiens in the 2013 draft.

Anthony Mantha’s grandfather is Andre Pronovost, a solid defensive forward with the Canadiens from 1956 to 1961, who would collect four straight Stanley Cups as a member of those late ’50s juggernauts.

The book my dad got signed for me in the late-50s includes Pronovost’s autograph, halfway down, just below Boom Boom Geoffrion’s. (My son has the book now. Otherwise I’d take the picture again and make it bigger).

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World Juniors Gearing Up

Saw the second and third periods of the Canada-Sweden pre-tournament game today (Sunday).

Canada was outmatched, losing 3-0, so it means they have to work on a couple of things, tweak a bit, and improve a fair amount as the days go on. Sweden looks good and I wonder how the other nations stack up.

Next year the tourney will be co-hosted by Montreal and Toronto. How great is that!

My son and I were at a World Junior game once, on Dec. 30, 1994 in Calgary when Canada came back late in the game to beat the Czech Republic 7-5.

It was a magical experience, even though I was in the midst of a marriage breakup at the time. A full and noisy Saddledome.  Wonderful hockey ending in dramatic fashion. And we had great seats because I ordered them as soon as they went on sale.

Somehow I think getting tickets in Montreal or Toronto for next year’s tourney won’t be so easy.

 

 

 

 

 

Not Quite For Canada

Congratulations to the U.S. junior squad for grabbing gold in Ufa after their 3-1 win over Sweden, and cheers to Russia for winning bronze, although I say it with a severe case of lack of enthusiasm after Team Canada fell to the home country 6-5 in overtime.

Canada clawed their way back a couple of times after being down by two, and throughout the third period and into overtime they had numerous chances, including ringing the rubber off goal posts not once but twice. But it wasn’t to be.

It’s always tough to see young hockey players lose a heartbreaker, especially when it’s your own country. But that’s sports. The agony and the ecstasy. And in the ecstasy department, the Americans, in their game against the Swedes, rebounded in the second period after being down by one, with little Californian Rocco Grimaldi scoring twice to put his team in the lead, a lead they never surrendered.

One player who caught my eye throughout the tournament was Mikhail Grigorenko, who went 12th in the 2012 entry draft, selected by Buffalo. Montreal, of course, chose Alex Galchenyuk third. Grigorenko is a big, long-legged smoothie, and has a chance of becoming a Jean Beliveau-type player, or on the other hand, maybe a Benoit Pouilot-type player. And believe me, it’s not easy to mention these players in the same breath. Please don’t misconstrue my Jean Beliveau analogy.

Next year the tourney will take place in Malmo, Sweden, which means another two weeks of extremely early games for us on this side of the pond. Malmo is the birthplace of siren Anita Ekberg, if you’re interested.

anita-ekberg

Anita

Yanks Spank Canada

The U.S. dominated throughout in their 5-1 crusher of the Canadians in World Junior semi-final action, and if there’s a solid reason why Canada just didn’t show up on this day, I’d like to know why. Was it coaching? Was it nerves, or lack of leadership, or lack of sleep? Whatever it was, the Americans blast through to the gold medal game against the Swedes on Saturday, while Canada and Russia sadly battle it out for the bronze after Russia fell 3-2 in a shootout against Sweden.

Not what Canadians from coast to coast wanted or expected, that’s for sure. Speaking as a Canadian, this is quite an obnoxious turn of events to say the least. We have two things to brag about in the Great White North – world-class comedians, and world-class hockey players. We hate it when the Americans try to put a dent in some of our best stuff.

Damn Yankees. And I say that with respect and admiration, because the U.S. squad was just way too good on this day. They seemed to want it more. Much more. I just don’t understand why. We always want it more. It’s what Canadian hockey players are best known for.

And it’s a tremendously depressing sight to see the number one guy between the pipes get yanked in the second period when it was 4-0 at that point. But no blame can be put on Malcolm Subban, or relief Jordan Binnington, who played well under difficult circumstances, like sitting on the bench from game one on. Maybe Subban didn’t have his best game and be miraculous when the going got tough, but it’s a team game, and the team in front of the two just didn’t show up.

There’s going to be a lot of questions from the Canadian side now. Like, what happened? Almost from the first minute of the first period, the Americans took advantage of Canada’s loose play, with pucks being turned over, missed passes, poor line changes, and ultimately, when Canada did get quality chances, particularly in the third period when Ryan Strome, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Dougie Hamilton all were close in, the U.S. goaltender John Gibson was there like a brick wall.

Can Canada win bronze on Saturday against the Russians? Maybe. But I hate bronze.

 

Important WJC Correction

Originally I posted that the World Junior semi-finals would be held on Friday, which is what I had read on certain sites. I’m not going to mention any names, but one in particular starts with T, and also has SN in the name. They were wrong and because I believed them, so was I. Unless I’m losing my mind. In that case, sorry TSN.

Canada plays the U.S, and Russia takes on Sweden, a day earlier, on Thursday, which is only a few hours away. I apologize for this error.

The gold medal game goes on Saturday. Unless I’m wrong about that too.