Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hey, anyone see Connor's Ninendo games? Russia rolls over Finns,while we have parting gifts for USA and the Czechs

Try as they might no amount of   HyvaSumoiGo would work for the fans of Team North America on Thursday afternoon, with the Russian squad taking to their tasks with some serious determination to make sure that they were punching their ticket to a Saturday showdown with their legendary rivals Canada.

Mind you, the Russians did take a bit time to get started, looking like a Lada just hauled out of Vlad's garage in need of a tune up. It took more than few minutes before they took the afternoon match up with Finland in hand by the midway point of period number two.

The middle frame proving to be the end for the Finns as Russia scored two goals in quick succession as Vladimir Tarasenko and Ivan Telegin rattled in markers separated by less than ninety seconds to serve notice that any thought of Finnish resistance perhaps might be futile.

And considering how much the Finnish team had struggled to score through the tournament, a two goal lead by a machine such as the Russians may as well been a ten to nothing shellacking.

Evgini Malkin scored one extra goal in the third just to ensure that the Finns would not grab any momentum, something that for the most part never really appeared to be much of a threat of that happening.

From some early enthusiasm for the gang from Suomi in the early periods, the sudden roll from the Russians had an effect on the Air Canada Centre crowd that quickly channelled the feeling of a quiet Greyhound station awaiting the midnight bus.

The majority of the crowd which appeared keen for a Finnish victory realizing that the prospect of the North American Young Guns advancing was quickly fading into the Toronto afternoon.

Leaving us with only memories of that youthful exuberance and a remarkable run by a group that probably didn't even bother to pack shaving cream.

Though while disappointed that the chance to watch the energetic youngsters continue on into the tournament has been dashed, the consolation prize for hockey fans is a pretty good one, with the Thursday win the Russians set up a Semi Final Showdown with Canada for Saturday night.

A one game winner moves on, loser packs up match up that will call to mind some of the dramatic games of the past whenever the two nations catch up to each other on a sheet of ice.

The night cap game had no drama, no real energy and brought a whole lot of extra baggage into the Air Canada Centre beyond the regular sticks and equipment.

Team USA went into their final game of their tournament experience embroiled in some nasty finger pointing and keeping the twitter feeds of social media alive as they reviewed an avalanche of trolling from players of the past, or those left off the USA's 2016 World Cup roster.

By the time they took the pre game skate, one imagines that the American players no doubt were anxious to be done with the Thursday game ...  a feeling similar to those Southwest airlines commercials where you want to get away ... far, far away.

By the time the Americans took to the ice they had already seen the reviews from the US media that was merciless in their coverage of every aspect of the USA experience, from their unfocused play on the ice to the off ice dramas and feuds that would have made them the winners of the most dysfunctional team award of the tournament, if such a thing existed, and if it did, the trophy surely would be spectacular.

The Czechs were no great power house either through the tournament, but hey, someone had to win on Thursday and so, despite an incomprehensible final five minute flurry by the Americans to try and send the game to Overtime, (really what were they thinking?) the Czech Republic held off the  furious late game charge and for their troubles suffered a few punches to head of Michal Jordan by Dustin Byfuglien at games end.

That outburst we suspect was one part frustration by the Team USA player and one part the understandable understanding that punching out your coaching staff or some of your own players probably won't earn you a return invite for future international events.

Mr. Jordan became the proxy punching bag of every American player that watched their tournament ambitions just drift away.

The unfortunate thing for Byfuglien is that he was one of the few Americans on the ice for the game who appeared to actually have an interest in giving an effort for the full sixty minutes and up until the time he did the rag doll with Jordan, he was about the only positive story of the game.

Having been scratched in game one (a baffling decision that pretty well set the tone for bad decisions through the tournament for the US), he logged lengthy stretches of ice time including near endless minutes in the third where it seemed that he would never return to the bench, though who could blame him it probably was more fun on the ice.

It was an ugly way to end a hockey game and reflected a terrible ending for a hockey program that not too long ago was putting a scare into the likes of Canada and Russia. The players having headed to a training camp in August with great ambitions on their minds, hopes that were dashed in one, two, three games, Over and Out and on to the post mortem.

The score you ask, what was the score?

A 4-3 final, close we guess, but honestly we're pretty sure no one is going to be going hey, did you see that game last night it was a beauty, it wasn't and no one will...

We doubt that the Americans will be hanging around for the Semi-Finals on the weekend, watching Canada and the Russians on Saturday, or the Swedes and Team Europe on Sunday make their push for the Three Game final series probably is best done from afar, at a bar, done alone.

You can find more on the final day of the preliminary round from our Game Day Archive page, which features game summaries and a collection of commentary and analysis of both games.

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