Saturday, May 17, 2008

After a close call, a familiar rival beckons

There were a few nervous moments in Le Colisee on Friday afternoon, as Canada seemed to struggle to find its bearings in the early going of their semi final match with Sweden.

For the first period and a portion of the second, Canada played far too tentative and allowed Sweden too much in the way of freedom, falling behind (granted it was for less than a minute and half) at one point before finally breaking things open with a flurry of goals.

Canada benefited from a careless use of the stick from the Swedes, as Jason Spezza was cut on the face, good enough for a four minute power play which helped to push Canada to a 5-3 lead heading into the third period.

It set the stage for an exciting final twenty minutes, as the Swedes refused to call it a day and battled back to within a goal, showing a resolve that impressed if not worried the faithful in Quebec City.

The Swedes began the third with an unusual roster move, replacing Henrik Lundquvist in the nets with Michael Tellqvist, a move that seemed to pay off dividends immediately as Tellqvist closed the door on a number of Canadian scoring chances including a one on one breakaway by Rick Nash, which Tellqvist denied.

Pascal Leclaire had another strong game for Team Canada, though a rebound in the third set up the Swedes fourth goal and resulted in some white knuckle hockey for the remainder of the third period. However, Canada was able to withstand the Swedish pressure and still were skating forward towards the final, at the last whistle of the game, clinging as they were to their 5-4 victory but still the ones that move on to the Gold medal game.

They meet up with an old foe, but one they’ve not met before in a gold medal game at the World Championships.

The Russians who earlier in the day had dispatched of the Finns quite effectively will be the only thing that stands between Canada and its third consecutive gold medal and the first ever won on Canadian soil.

The Gold medal game goes Sunday afternoon at 1 pm, 10 am Pacific on TSN, it was probably the dream match up of the organizers, the fans, the folks at TSN and the players as well.

In measuring sticks in the game of hockey, there’s no better test than the two powers of the game matching up. Sunday once again adds to the historic nature of the Canada/Russia kinship, a new chapter for an old story, one that Canadians hope once again has an enjoyable finish.

Globe and Mail-- Canada to face Russia for gold
Vancouver Sun-- Canada holds off Sweden, faces Russia for gold
Vancouver Sun-- Canada vs. Russia a dream date
Edmonton Sun-- Sheer willpower
CBC Sports-- Canada to play for World Championship
Toronto Star-- Dream showdown

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