Friday, September 07, 2007

Streak stopper

In Brent Sutter's own barn, Canada's remarkable success run came to an end, sort of.

Try as they did, Team Canada after battling back from a one goal deficit going into the third period couldn't find a go ahead goal to secure win number seven in the eight game series and keep Brent Sutter's consecutive win streak alive.

The record books will show that Sutter's record winning streak ended at number 18, as Canada and Russia played to a four all tie in front of a very energetic home side in Red Deer's En Max Centrium which was expanded to 7,000 seats for Sutter's farewell performance.

The Team Canada coach who up until this year was coach of the Red Deer Rebels, now moves on to the NHL again with the New Jersey Devils. Friday night was the last chance for the locals to applaud his efforts not only with the home town team but with Team Canada and his remarkable success with the national junior program.

As for the action on the ice, it was by far one of Russia's better games in recent history and probably one that the Canadians would like to have back, they fell behind 2-0 at one time and seemed to take forever to get back into a groove to take on the Russian attack. Canada was sloppy in its own end and seemed to get away from the program a bit in this one, allowing the Russians to possess the puck more than they had in the first six games, the first two Canadian periods were unlike what we have become used to in the series, a slightly lethargic pace and featuring lack of attention on the penalty kill which came back to haunt them.

But once they scored the tying goal, the intensity of play went up another notch as both teams went from end to end with numerous chances. Canada seemed to be on the cusp of taking the lead and another victory but some remarkable saves by Vadim Zhelobnyuk, who faced 36 shots over the three periods turning aside all but four.

Canadian goaltenders faced only 19 shots in total, as Sutter rotated Steve Mason and Jonathan Bernier, Mason allowed two goals on five shots while Bernier stopped 12 of 14 Russian shots.

As the final minutes wound down, the Canadian side seemed to be giving its best to give the coach another notch on the record belt, but the Russians seemed determined to deny them.

While they have yet to lose a game in the Super series, Canada will no doubt regret losing the momentum that they were carrying into Red Deer. Game eight, the final match of the eight game series is set for Sunday night in Vancouver, where only 400 seats remain on sale.

No comments: