With all the talk leading up to the Canada-Switzerland game about the surprising 2-0 upset win by the Swiss four years ago in Turin, I was a nervous cat. That loss was the beginning of the end for the Canadians in which they finished an embarrassing seventh spot in those Olympic games and no way did Canadians want to see that happen again.
So the point was made long ago. Beat the Swiss. That’s the task at hand.
The first period in Vancouver did nothing to dispel my jitters. Canada came out of it up 1-0 with a goal by Dany Heatley, but the Swiss play a tough, aggessive, hard checking game, they’re not soft by any stretch of the imagination, and because of that, who knew what the second and third periods would bring us.
Early in the second, when Canada’s Patrick Marleau scored on the power play, it was a sigh of relief. Could they make it three, four, five maybe, and walk away with this game? But the pesky Swiss scored midway through this frame to cut it in half, and then with ten seconds left, tied it, and Canadian fans everywhere muttered “gosh darn”, or words to that effect.
A tie game going into the third. Who are these Swiss? They beat Canada 2-0 four years ago in Turin and are now tied with them going in to the third in Vancouver? These aren’t the Russians or Swedes or Americans. There’s only two NHL’ers on the team, Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller and the Islanders’ Mark Streit, along with Montreal prospect Yannick Weber who has played just a handful of games in the show, and this no-name squad shouldn’t be tied at two after two periods with the big NHL stars.
In the third, Jonas Hiller, as goalies will do, kept his team in it. Hiller was a killer, and the period ended still tied at two, and overtime at Canada Hockey Place was on the menu. At this point, Canadian fans weren’t an elated bunch.
The five minute drama solved nothing, and finally, Sidney Crosby in his second attempt, scored the only goal, and Canada – players, coaches, management, trainers, zamboni driver, beer sellers, and fans everywhere, all breathed a sigh of relief.
Team Canada coaches need to iron out a few things. The players have to stop trying to get fancy, the power play went 1 for 7, the defence were caught out of position often. This is the elite of Canadian hockey, playing guys who can’t make the NHL but who make up for it with hard work. It was a win, barely, and the real tough going hasn’t really started yet.
But I believe in Canadian hockey of course, and the problems will get fixed. It’s just a bit of a wakeup call.