Sunday, December 30, 2007

Streak Stopping Swedes Shock Canadians

Saturday provided a wake up call for the members of Canada’s world junior squad, that hard work will trump reputation when the time comes.

Perhaps it was all that talk about the “streak”, going for the blackjack as the folks on TSN said early Saturday, an almost pre-ordained destiny for Canada of waltzing through another world championship tournament.

While they will no doubt claim that they were paying no heed to all of that, Saturday resting on your laurels proved to be costly. The Swedes who slowly began to take over the flow of the game by the second period turned a third period blitz into victory as they scored a last second goal to avoid overtime and claim a regulation time victory 4-3 over a shocked looking Canadian squad.

Canada were the authors of their own misfortune on Saturday, having jumped into an early lead they allowed some sloppy play to bring the Swedes back into the game. Penalty trouble would give the Swedes a goal and some momentum, while the Canadians were lucky to pick up a goal on a controversial five on three situation.

At that point it appeared that they had once again rescued themselves from a near disaster, slowly finding their footing again, only to see things turn around with a terrible giveaway in the neutral zone that led to the final and go ahead goal with just seconds to go in the game.

As the Swedes celebrated their win, Canada could finally lay to rest a number of elephants in the room, the undefeated string stretching back to 2005, the shutout hockey that they had guarded thus far and the sense of invincibility that finally was knocked down on Saturday.

By no means is it the worst thing that could have happened to what are still just teenagers, it could prove to be the lesson that they needed to be taught that there is hard work involved on the way to a championship.

Craig Hartsburg could caution them as much as possible, but until they learned it on the ice they may never have believed it.

Rather than taking the short course to the championship round they’ll have to watch the scoreboard and perhaps have to fight their way to it, they begin the process next with a game against Denmark, a team that you probably wouldn’t want to be a member of going up against Canada.

They’ll be angry with themselves, perhaps disappointed in their play, but if they learn from the lesson in the long term it could be the most important moment for Canada in this tournament.

Globe and Mail--Sweden stuns Canada
Winnipeg Sun--A taste of adversity

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