Полное Доминирование, those two words told all as the World Junior Hockey Championships drew to a close on the frozen plains of North Dakota. Two teams steeped in hockey history took to the ice on Tuesday night, but only one would be draped in Gold Medals at games end.
The statistics of this Junior tournament give testimony to the Полное Доминирование of the Canadian squad in this years gathering.
With Tuesday night's 6-1 thrashing of the vaunted Russian squad, Canada reclaimed its place at the top of the World Hockey hierarchy. In that 6-1 victory, Canada once again controlled the play, outshooting their Russian compatriots 32-19, neutralizing the offesnive weapons of Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malik. The game was the series in review.
Throughout this tournament Canada had complete control of the exhibition of shinny. Canada outshot the combined competition 259-107, Outscored their opponents 41-7, controlled the flow of the play, made the most hits, blocked the most shots, in short exhibited complete domination of all facets of the game. This was a team that never trailed once in any game of the tournament, such was the high level of their game.
Much was made of the offensive prowess of Alexander Ovechkin (mostly from Ovechkin himself) how the Russians would score often on untested Canadian Goaltender Jeff Glass, as Alex would quickly learn you can't score if you can't get close. Canada's defensive units and strong backchecking forwards shut down any semblance of a Russian attack. Ovechkin himself would be forced out of the game by the third period, a crushing open ice hit by Canada's Sidney Crosby causing Ovechkin enough distress to call it a game by the time the third period would start. In this game there would be no showboating, no gloating by Alex and his mates, they could only sit back and watch the lessons unfold. To his credit Ovechkin afterwards acknowledged that the Canadians were the better team. Though he did come by his evidence first hand and close up.
Hard work, talent and superior coaching would not be denied in the 2006 version of the tournament, as the Canadians provided a clinic on what it takes to build a winning squad. Team Canada kept to their game plan with crushing hits, control of the games flow and tight defensive work. They palyed through the frequent stick fouls (many of which went uncalled) of the Russians, who found frustration strike often in the second period, when Canada finally put them away for good. Power play opportunities by the Russians, where they should have been able to get untracked, would go for naught, as Canada shut down the Russian units one after the other.
The actively pro Canada crowd, boosted by many Manitobans who invaded Grand Forks enmasse began their celebrating midway through the third, the Russians having come to the realization that this night and tournament belonged to Canada. The crowd cheered the medal presentation, applauded with gusto as three Canadians were named to the tournament all star team and of course sang with heartful pride as the strains of Oh Canada rose with the flag to the rafters of the Ralph Englestad Centre.
With the latest in Canadian success on the ice, its safe to proclaim that "the kids are alright", as is the game they play on all frontiers.