Monday, January 06, 2014

Swarmed by Suomi

Canada's quest for Gold came to an end on Saturday in Malmo, as a fast skating and focused Finnish squad dispatched the Canadians to the Bronze Medal game on the strength of a 5-1 score.

Canada's fortunes hinged in the end on the final period, having fallen behind the Finns through forty minutes of play, the first thirty of which were all Finland as the Finns out skated the Canadian team and but for some high quality saves from Zach Fucale could have been blowing the doors off by the end of the second.

The Canadian woes were best summed up by a short simple tweet by TSN during the course of the second period, which provided a fairly succinct explanation as to the troubles that Canada had through the first thirty minutes.

Indeed, that simple message from Coach Brent Sutter  offers up the best snapshot to the key difference of the game, the Finns were flying, the Canadians almost stationary for the majority of the game.

Canada did get untracked to a fashion in the final ten of the middle frame, however, penalties as they always seem to do in international hockey provided for a sub plot to the game and left Canada to try and regain composure, a task that they never really quite seemed to achieve.

Since Canadians have taken to International hockey decades ago, every player that steps on the ice knows that the standards of officiating will be wildly fluctuating from game to game, an infraction in one is somehow of no consequence in the other. It's up to the players and coaches to gauge the game they are in and adjust and more importantly act accordingly, Canada did not and found themselves fighting short handed for portions of the play.

And while many might point to two key penalties, a high sticking penalty to Johnathan Drouin and something called abuse of an official to Nic Petan (whatever that might have been) as pivotal to the Canadian defeat, that would not provide the Finns with their due.

They as a team seemed to remain on focus through the sixty minutes, they were fast, their passes sharp and on the mark, the goals hard earned. As they built up the lead in the third you could see their confidence grow while the Canadians began to turn to frustration at missed opportunities, something that seemed to weigh on their minds as the minutes ticked down.

Finland with the win prepared for Baltic rivals and the hosts of the World Juniors Sweden, for Swedes perhaps a game that was to bring forward as much energy (and eventual disappointment as it turned out) as any showdown with Canada, the US or Russia might.

That gold medal game offered up a most entertaining match up,with Finland claiming the championship with a 3-2  Overtime victory.

The Canadians for their part had moved on to the Bronze medal game. Not exactly where they had hoped to be found on Sunday just a few days ago.

For Canada and the Russians too we imagine, the Bronze is an event that is akin to having to dance with an unpopular cousin at a wedding. You know you have to attend the function and yes you have to dance with your cousin, but really you would much rather just be heading out of town all in all.

Dance time for Canada and Russia was 9 AM ET/ 6 PT on Sunday, with the Russians outlasting the Canadians to a 3-2 victory to claim the Bronze medal, leaving Canada medal less for the second year in a row.

Some reviews of the 48 hours of Canadian woe can be found below:

National Post-- Canada goes home empty-handed again with 'heartbreaking' loss to Russia in bronze medal game
Ottawa Sun-- Team Canada feels pain of missing world junior podium
Ottawa Sun-- Canada falls to Russia, misses world junior podium
TSN-- Russia beats Canada at World Juniors Canada falls to Russia in bronze medal game
Ottawa Sun-- Team Canada drops semifinal to Finland, to play Russia for bronze medal Canada loses to Finland 5-1 in semi final Canada loses 5-1 to Finland in semi final
National Post-- Canada falls victim to bad luck in semi-finals loss to Finland

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