Friday, January 01, 2010

Saskatoon shoot out adds to the New Years Eve legends

There's something about International hockey played on New Years Eve, through the years a bit of shinny before welcoming in a new year has provided for some of the most exciting of feasts that the sport can provide.

This year, the tensions did not build until the late third period, as Canada and the United States renewed acquaintances and Auld Lang Synes.

For the better part of Thursday nights game, the United States seemed to have found the answer to Canada's tournament template, the Americans knocked Canada off their game for the first forty minutes, knocking them around as well like few other teams seem able to do.

With but a few opportune bounces off a post or shots whistled just wide, the two goal lead heading into the late third would have been a three or four goal lead, but as seems the case on most of these epic struggles, we were merely having the stage set for another frantic finish.

Canada finally got untracked as the minutes ticked off in the third, chipping away at the USA lead, eventually grabbing the tie in the last few minutes of play. Their never say die attitude continues to build that Canadian belief that any win is within grasp until the final whistle, as it was on Thursday that belief rings true once again.

It was a game that highlighted the non stop energy of juniors, who seem to perform at a different gear when the World Juniors are underway. Thursday featured a frequent exhibition of that frantic action, a tone that continued right into the 4 on 4 overtime frame.

With no result after 65 minutes, it was on to the shoot out and again it's a different gear, if you can find the highlights of hockey both junior and pro for New Years Eve, check out the pace of the shootouts.

Where the NHLers for the most part appear to be Sunday skaters lounging towards the net for their shot, the Juniors of both Canada and the US were at full tilt speed towards the goal, trading off success until finally an American shot was pushed aside bringing to an end the nights entertainment and keeping Canada's record intact if but by a slender thread.

We clearly get spoiled with our New Years options, from that magical Canadiens/Soviet Red Army night of 1975 and its follow up four years later, to the latest of grudge matches between neighbours of last night, the safest prediction one could make on January 1st is that there will be a dandy hockey game in 364 more days.

National Post-- Canada shows resiliency with comeback win over U.S.
National Post-- Canada upsets U.S. in shootout win
Globe and Mail-- Canada cuts tension on the ice
Globe and Mail-- Brandon Kozun: the eh team all the way
Toronto Star-- Canadian juniors' third-period rally ends '09 in style
Toronto Star-- Canadian juniors beat U.S. in shootout
Saskatoon Star-Phoenix-- Happy New Year, Canada! Junior squad wins shootout over USA

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