Tag Archives: 2013 World Junior Championships

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.

 

Russians Fall To Canutskys

Team Canada downed the Russians 4-1 on Russian soil at Unrestrictedfreeagentgrad, (Ufa) and although the Russian squad boasts a couple of players everyone’s talked about for a year or two – Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko, the Canadians have guys called Grit and Heart and Malcolm Subban in their lineup, with Subban playing great between the pipes and stopping all but one, including a penalty shot, although it was fired wide.

Too bad the young fellow belongs to Boston. It’s the only bummer I can muster right now.

Onward it goes. Canada earns a bye to the semi-final way off on Friday, which gives them good time to nurse their aches and pains and buy nesting dolls for their families, and will play the winner of the U.S./Czech contest, which will be held on Wednesday. Russia and Switzerland hammer it out on the same day for the right to take on Sweden in the other semi-final.

Canada and the U.S. would be an excellent match-up, as would Russia and Sweden. Who knows how things will unfold at that point. But I have faith. I’m a proud Canadian.

Wouldn’t it be weird to see Switzerland win the whole thing?

Canada Clips Yanks

Team Canada edged the U.S. 2-1 today and now hold a perfect 3 wins and no losses, while the Americans have put themselves in a bit of a pickle and must beat Slovakia tomorrow to stay alive. So at this moment, it’s good to be a Canadian.

Not so good for me personally though, was the lack of fire from Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk was mostly quiet throughout, although he did earn an assist on the lone American goal. But as a Habs fan, I want the young fellow to dominate this tournament the way Jerome Iginla did in 1996, or Evgeny Malkin in 2006, or Brad Marchand most recently with the U17 ladies squad.

Galchenyuk for the most part was just an ordinary player against the Canadians. Not what I’d expected or hoped for. This wasn’t Guy Lafleur with the Quebec Remparts. It was more like Boris Borzakovsky with the Minsk Marauders.

But Canada won, and this is great if you’re a Canadian like me. So on one hand I’m ecstatic. On the other, a little disappointed.

Next up for Canada – Monday against the Russians, while Galchenyuk and his U.S. gang take on Slovakia.

Keep it going, Canada. Smarten up, Galchenyuk.

 

Team Canada Scores a Few

It’s the time of year to think of others less fortunate, and my heart goes out to Russian World Junior ticket scalpers, who might have to soon think about another occupation. How can they sell overpriced tickets to games in an arena where there were so many empty seats, elephants would be free to roam?

Although having said that, there probably aren’t a lot of elephants in the industrial city of Ufa, which is located 1169 km. southeast of Moscow and 7908 km (4914 miles) from Montreal if you’re interested.

The Ufa arena holds 8250 fans, with just 3618 warming the seats for today’s contest. Ufa isn’t Saskatoon. But then again, Germany isn’t Russia or the U.S.A. when it comes to hockey.

If you’ve recorded the Canada-Germany game and are waiting to watch it when you get home from wherever you were, you might not want to read this, because I’m about to tell the score. But think about it. Are you really biting at the bit waiting to see how badly Germany gets blown out?

9-3 Canada.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who should be playing for the Edmonton Oilers now if NHL people weren’t such morons, had a goal and four assists. Nugent-Hopkins’ linemates also had big days, with Jonathan Huberdeau adding a goal and 2 assists and Mark Scheifele two goals.

Malcolm Subban, in nets for Canada, didn’t stand on his head but didn’t need to, and is it immature of me to hope that young Subban, brother of P.K., doesn’t blossom into an NHL star considering he was Boston’s first-round draft pick? Am I bad for saying this?

But I am hoping that for the next couple of weeks, Malcolm shines. Is that better?

Canada doesn’t yet seem to be an overwhelming machine, but it is only game one of course. It remains to be seen how they play when it’s against some of the powerhouses who would like nothing better than flex their muscles against Canada. It’s always been that way. Even if you can’t win gold, if you can manage to beat Canada, you’re automatically a bonafide hockey nation. So we’ll see how things play out as we go along.

Of course, being a Canadian, my focus sits mostly with Team Canada. But as a Habs fan, I can’t help being excited to see Alex Galchenyuk with the American team. May he score buckets, dominate, have fans on the edge of their seats. Except when the Americans meet Canada. Then I hope he’s only second star in a big Canadian win.

Galchenyuk and his gang get going tomorrow, against this same German team we saw today, and here’s hoping he dazzles and, God-forbid, doesn’t get hurt. Canada hits the ice again on Friday, when it’s time to meet Slovakia.

Love this time of year, this tournament with hockey’s future strutting their stuff. Too bad, in just a few short years, many of these guys will be NHLers and become out of touch with reality and the common person.