The Men’s IIHF World Hockey Championship so far has produced some brilliant moments but the best hockey is still yet to come.
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Canada played its most complete game Tuesday versus a stacked American squad. They owned the puck from pillar to post only allowing brief cycles from the Americans who never really posed a threat. The Americans haven’t had much or any success at this tournament but on paper they stack up well against the two usual favourites Canada and the bad guys Russia.
Anthony Mantha has been the surprise player for Canada who’s in the top bracket for points so far in the tournament. Woodbridge, Ontario native Anthony Cirelli has quietly been my favourite player in the tournament. He plays like a starved badger winning almost every puck race and battle. He seems to hit a post every game.
As for other interesting storylines, Great Britain staved off relegation back to the B-Pool with a thrilling overtime win over France, coming back from three nothing. Germany has taken a big step forward with a huge upset win over Finland. The hosts Slovakia had a major upset victory over the US on day one.
It’s great to see the non traditional hockey countries (not including Slovakia) take little steps forward, creating a more complete hockey map across Europe.
The tournament is now in the quarterfinal stage. The match ups are outstanding, with the Americans losing to the Canadians, they face a stacked Russian squad who has been bulldozing teams like Putin on a free for all. However, the Americans have a deep squad with Jack Eichel, Johnny Hockey, Dylan Larkin (if available) and Patrick Kane.
The Canadians after winning their group are awarded a softer match up against the Swiss. The Canadians better not let up on their focus against a Swiss team that has Roman Josi and Nico Hischier.
This tournament doesn’t receive the proper attention from the North American hockey fans. I know the Stanley Cup playoffs are our culture and I don’t want that to change. However, some of Hockey’s greatest moments have happened at this tournament. Scarborough native Anson Carter, a recognized, celebrated top level NHL player, scored possibly the biggest goal of his career. It was in overtime versus Sweden for the gold medal in 2003. That team Canada roster was just so symbolic of what team Canada is all about. A bunch of hosers like Ryan Smith, Anson Carter, Shane Doane and Danny Heatly all bonded together and scored ugly second and third chance effort type of goals. They willed that win on the team Canada “never give up” style of hockey against a deep Swedish roster with Mats Sundin, Forsberg and Zetterberg. Ending a drought, and making all of Canada proud, although probably only a measly TV audience took it in. I know the games are during work hours due to the time difference but please make the effort and support our team over there.
The Canadian team always represents our country proudly. They play hard, clean and usually win it more often than not. It makes the Europeans crazy. Come join the fun.