2011Jan 12

World Juniors: Golden Dreams Dashed Again

SPAD Student Chad Scanlan at the 2011 World Juniors

By SPAD Blogger Brent Hurley

If you are Canadian, you don’t need to be reminded. In case you were on another planet last Wednesday night, you missed what TSN hockey analysts are calling the greatest collapse by Canada in international competition.

Canada came out hitting. Canada scored early. Canada scored often. Canada lead 3:0 after two periods. Then it all slipped away.

Russia came out with speed. Russia scores 2:30 into the final frame. Russia scores again 13 seconds later. Russia has all the momentum, as the Canadians stopped hitting and the entire nation held its breath with just a one goal lead.

Russia would score to tie it five minutes later, and then buried the winner with just 4:38 to play. The former communist nation added one more for good measure, ending Canada’s nightmare 5:3.

Wow.

There really is no logical or fathomable explanation. With junior aged players, anything can happen at any time. That’s hockey. For Leafs fans, this collapse and disheartening feeling is all too familiar. But no one would have predicted this epic 20 minute lapse on that stage. Now each of the young men that represented our country has a silver medal as a stark reminder just how fast this game can change. Unfortunately for them, in our county and especially in regards to our sport, there really is no silver lining. Period.

So what now?

The Canadian team went their separate ways after the epic collapse; heading back to their junior teams scattered across the country. The Russians partied and got drunk… Really drunk. Seriously, they must have been completely belligerent to get in trouble and kicked off a flight in Buffalo. Com’on.

The game was watched by 6.23 million viewers on TSN, with almost half of Canadians (14.2 million unique viewers) taking in the contest. Surprisingly, the number of viewers dropped off to a total of seven after the Russians scored to make it 5:3.

The SPAD house on Wellington Heights cleared out instantly once the Russians put that nail in the coffin. A group of about 15 SPAD had gathered to watch the game and enjoy a few Canadian beverages. It was a great night of united cheering, as many of us normally cheer for different NHL teams. All four years of SPAD were represented, as we had everything from frosh Cody Cousineau to Matt the Canadian Intern making his return to the ’Bury (and yes, that was his tweet they showed on TSN over the break –instant impact upon return to the homeland, Matt). As mentioned, we didn’t stick around to watch the celebrations, opting instead to head to the pub to join the rest of SPAD who had been watching there or in residence for some White Russians (drinks).

Speaking of watching, SPAD had a couple people enjoy games in Buffalo. Second year, Chad Scanlan took in 21 tournament games, including every Canada game. “The atmosphere was unbelievable. Being in a different country and seeing everyone wearing red and white was surreal. Not to mention, being an integral part of the biggest fan wave since the 1993 World Series was just awesome.”

The atmosphere really was incredible. I attended two pre-tournament games in Toronto and Kitchener and was blown away about the passion of the fans for these “warm-up” games. Those kids were not holding anything back at any time with that maple leaf on their jersey. Fourth year Mike Latty made it to the opening game against Russia and commented on the buzz around the arena before, during and after the game in Buffalo. “They had a Tragically Hip cover band playing before and after, making it just a pure Canadian party.”

2010 Green Jerseys

For Canada, we still sit atop the world hockey rankings. We can thank Sid and Co. in Vancouver last February for that, and also for helping Canadians keep some of their sanity through this debacle.

So, another year is here and the holidays are over. The World Junior Championship holiday tradition may have ended in disaster, but that didn’t stop 186,781 people from entering the lottery for tickets at next year’s tournament in Calgary. Perhaps there is some Western magic in the air that will carry over from Vancouver to Calgary next December.

One thing is for certain: at least in Calgary, we know the players won’t be daunting any cursed green jerseys. Don’t get me wrong, it was a cute idea by the Saskatchewans last year (when they hosted the WJC) and I have nothing against the Roughriders. But everyone remembers the 2009 Grey Cup (probably the only one everyone remembers), where a mental lapse and an extra man cost the province a championship. Then less than two months later, the Canadian juniors are forced to wear green jerseys in honour of Saskatchewan and the Roughriders in a tournament game!?!? Sure, they won that game they wore green, but the Rider curse was brought to the rink and infested in our junior program.

They lost gold in overtime in Saskatchewan.

They absolutely collapse in Buffalo.

Perhaps our juniors are battling more than just opponents… They’re fighting green demons, who love slapping silver on our beautiful red, white, and GOLD nation.

Will the curse carry to Calgary? Or is the west truly a Canadian gold mine?

Get digging Calgary, and get it done next year boys.

No excuses, play like a champion.

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