Category Archives: World Junior Championship

A Golden Night

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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.

 

Nearing The Finish Line

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It was Calgary to Chilliwack on this New Year’s Eve, definitely a major haul that saw us wind our way through the Rockies and beyond, and we’ll be in Powell River tomorrow afternoon.

Just an excellent trip that began on Christmas morning in Montreal, and aside from a snowstorm north of Sault Ste. Marie, near perfect weather all the way, which means we were incredibly lucky. It easily could’ve been horrendous, but it wasn’t.

It was nights spent in Pembroke, Sudbury, Wawa, Kenora, Moose Jaw, Calgary, and now Chilliwack, with cheap gas everywhere, including 79 cents a litre in Medicine Hat.

Nearly 5000 km in all, with a lot of lousy food, beautiful scenery, frigid prairies, a visit with my son in Calgary, a cat that never complained, and now the edge of the water just an hour away.

Missed a lot of hockey though. A couple of Habs games, several Team Canada World Juniors contests, and although we get back tomorrow, we won’t have internet or TV until Saturday so more games will be missed.

Missing things is the price paid for going on something slightly bigger than a Sunday drive.

Time to get cleaned up and find somewhere to eat and enjoy the last few hours of 2014. At this time I’d like to wish everyone a fantastic 2015. Hope it’s a happy year for you, with a serious lack¬† of headaches and bullshit.

And imagine a Habs Stanley Cup in the spring!

Pure Prairie Sailing

Canadiens won 3-1 in Carolina on Monday night, with goals from Jiri Sekac, Lars Eller, and Max Pacioretty. Max now has 14 in 36 games, which, over 82 games, would amount to……………….quite a bit. More than 30. (You thought I was going to do the math?)

A few things to note:

Lucy, Teesha, and I went from Kenora to Moose Jaw today (860 km), and it’s a tad chilly. Down around minus-25 all day, and -35 or -40 during the night. The car windows never truly cleared all day.

But the roads are dry, which is all I care about. And the price of gas is around 90 cents a litre right now, which is also cool.

I know it’s not nearly over, but so far this drive. that began in Montreal, has been, aside from the three hour snowstorm from the Soo to Wawa, dry roads and smooth sailing. But Calgary tomorrow, then through the Rockies the next day, and who knows what’s in store? Maybe we’ll see a sasquatch.

Moose Jaw TV showed the Winnipeg-Minnesota game and the Canada-Finland World Junior game, but no Habs, which brings to me to the big question. When I reach the coast and am phoning around about getting cable connected, what’s the best option for seeing the Canadiens?

This paragraph is about Teesha the Wonder Cat. Two weeks ago she was near death. She couldn’t walk, couldn’t eat, couldn’t move. Now I feel she’s at about 70% overall. Her walking isn’t great and she won’t drink water voluntarily, but other than that, she’s doing great and we’re mighty proud of her.

Tomorrow we stay with my son Rory in Calgary. Then it’s Banff, Lake Louise, Golden, Rogers Pass, and Kamloops, but only if the weather cooperates. After that, Vancouver, then up coast.

But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. Right now I’m only concerned about the car starting in the morning.

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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

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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.