Monday, January 02, 2006

Another New Years Eve Classic!

Saturday night's match up between Canada and the USA at the World Junior Championships produced another one of those great New Years eve memories.

Like the Russia - Montreal match up of the seventies, it was one of those much anticipated matches that didn't disappoint by the time the final buzzer had gone.

Two evenly matched teams, a referee that let the team play and the built up competitiveness that always arises when these two hockey nations get together produced yet another treat for New Years eve revellers across North America.

Canada approached the game with a full speed ahead attitude, taking the body through the game in a tough punishing physical affair, that saw both team not afraid to go into the corners and move bodies to get to the puck.

It was the kind of hockey that North Americans have become used to and the kind of hockey that make the North American brand the exciting kind of hockey we've come to enjoy.

The two goaltenders put on a show as well, keeping their respective teams close to each other throughout the game. Toronto prospect Justin Pogge probably has Maple Leaf fans hopeful for the future, as he time and time again turned aside the American attack. At the other end of the rink American Cory Shneider was key to his teams success as well, keeping the Canadians total at 2 for most of the game. Only an empty net marker in the last minute gave Canada the 3-2 lead and the win, as the Americans pulled Schneider in a bid to go for a win, a tie being of no use to their tournament aspirations.

The physical play took an ugly turn in that last minute as Canadian Steve Downie was knocked to the ice by an unwarranted elbow delivered by the USA's hard nosed Jack Johnson. Johnson was expelled from the remainder of the game, but no further action was taken by the tournament committee who did not assess him with a suspension for the flagrant foul.

Downie is expected to suit up on Tuesday when Canada next sees action, as they and Russia take their 4-0 records on to enjoy a bye into the semi finals.

The Americans now turn their attention to Monday night and a quarter final match with the Czech Republic, the winner destined for a semi final game with Russia. Finland plays Sweden in the other quarterfinal, with the winner moving on to play Canada.

There may yet be some entertaining hockey to come as we skate our way towards the gold medal game, but for excitement and hard hitting thrills, it's going to be awfully hard to top the game provided for us on New Years Eve.

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