Team Canada was on fire so bad last night that they broke Twitter. (Okay, maybe they weren’t the reason for the blackout but I’m going to dream and think it was. Sue me.) However, another marvelous internet site was still kicking.
I present to you some of the best comments from the World Juniors gold medal game thread from Reddit because I’m a nerd like that. (Warning: NSFW language ahead!)
In honour of Canada Day, I’ve decided to throw together a little list of my top five Team Canada showings. In my “rankings” I consider the roster, the era of when the team played and how well they did. Remember, this is just my opinion and it will probably defer a lot from most. I won’t be naming the Summit Series either because everyone knows about that one. So sit back, grab your Timmie’s or Molson, eat some poutine and read about some of my country’s greatest teams.
5. Men’s Olympic Team – Sochi, Russia 2014
I know, I’m starting off with one that everybody knows about but I have to mention it. The only thing better than winning gold on Russian soil, is winning it at home. However, the 2014 squad proves that they were miles ahead of the Vancouver 2010 victory. Dominating their last two games against the US and Sweden, Team Canada (“senior” team, not junior) hasn’t shown this much power since the early 90’s.
A younger, faster Team Canada emerged. The changing of the old guard is indeed in play as players like Jamie Benn, Matt Duchene, John Tavares, Alex Pietrangelo, showed the world why we have the best developmental system going. Sweden didn’t hold a flame to how we played in the gold medal game. If you thought this team was scary; if the NHL will allow players to participate, just wait until the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
4. The 1987 Canada Cup team
The forerunner to the World Cup in the 90’s and early 2000’s, the Canada Cup was an exhibition tournament that took place before the NHL regular season. The NHL didn’t allow its players into the Olympics yet so this was one of the ways where the best hockey countries could compete for the title of World’s best. Players from the USSR weren’t allowed to play in North America just yet either and the Canada Cup was used as a way to see how the Russians were building their skill. Canada went undefeated to take the gold.
Some even put the Canada/USSR match-ups in this tournament ahead of the 1972 Summit Series as the best exhibition hockey ever seen. Want to know why? Just read off this lineup for Team Canada:
Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, Mark Messier, Dale Hawerchuk, Doug Gilmour, Ron Hextall, Kelly Hrudey, Claude Lemieux, Rick Tocchet, Larry Murphy, Glenn Anderson, Craig Hartsburg, Mike Gartner, Brian Propp, James Patrick, Normand Rochefort and Grant Fuhr.
On paper, that line up is golden before the first skate blade hits the ice. I’m all for fairness though and giving credit where credit is due, case in point; the Russians lineup was insane as well. I’ll name off some of the more familiar names: Sergei Makarov, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Valeri Kamensky, Igor Larionov, Sergei Nemchinov, and Anatoli Semenov. The Soviets only lost one game. Guess to who.
By the way, this is was the only time Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux played on the same line together. Hell, the winning goal was scored by Lemieux from Gretzky. I’ve watched highlights of the games and how they dominated the ice is just unbelievable. It’s something that I personally think we’ll never see again.
3. Women’s Olympic Team – Salt Lake City, USA 2002
In the late 90’s, women’s hockey was just starting to get its push and the recognition it deserved. It wasn’t anywhere near being a global sport as both the US and Canada were the top two teams year after year. The only difference from present day is that other countries are quickly gaining speed and getting stronger. Back then, well, poor old Sweden was in for it.
The 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan were the first to include women’s hockey as an Olympic sport. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in grade five and almost all of my school work was done around the Olympics. (In fact, my teacher decided to have her fun and give me a complete project on Russia. From beginning of time until present. Jokes on her, she gave me 100%) Actually, you know what’s funny? Russia never qualified for the tournament. JAPAN AND CHINA DID.
Anyway, Canada, the US and to a lesser extent Finland, dominated the pool. Most games finished in shutouts with box scores set in the double digits. (Also, Canada almost a gave up a close one to China, finishing 2-0. Seems like we always do this every single Olympics. See: Belarus 2002, Latvia 2014) Everyone knew who would be in the final. It was just playing the waiting game until then. Low and behold, the Red, White and Blue became victorious, shocking the world.
Enter Salt Lake City 2002.
Looking for revenge the women of Team Canada stepped up their game a notch. Maybe with the luck of planting a loonie at center ice underneath the surface, they were out for blood. Canada was undefeated in their pool and managed 26 goals for against the likes of Sweden, Russia and Kazakhstan. There was only one team with a better record: USA.
In front of almost 10,000 die hard Team USA faithful, the red and white notched three bangers to seal the deal. Caroline Ouellette, Hayley Wickenheiser and Jayna Hefford were three names that Canada will never forget. They haven’t let up since either.
2. Men’s Junior team – World Juniors, 1987 aka the Punch-up in Piestany
If you don’t know me by now, you’ll know that I have a keen love of enforcers and fighting in hockey; I’m all for it when there’s legitimate cause. If you know your hockey, you’ll also know that this team didn’t even medal or place. They got thrown out of the tournament. So why am I including it? Well, this tournament is the one that started our nation’s love of the junior tournament.
The 1987 World Juniors took place in Pietsany, Czechoslovakia and with international politics at the time in the midst of a nuclear meltdown with the Cold War, it’s safe to say that North America and the USSR didn’t really like each other. Especially on the ice.
When these two teams met, the Russians were already out of medal contention. Canada, on the other hand, had a really huge chance at a gold medal. If they scored more than four goals, victory was theirs. Naturally, there was tons of animosity in the air. Especially when after scoring the opening goal, Theo Fleury did his famous slide towards the Soviet bench and pointed his stick towards them like a machine gun, opening fire. That probably didn’t sit well.
Towards the end of the second period, Canada was up with a comfy 4-2 lead. However, after a fight, Soviet player Pavel Kostichkin two handed Fleury obviously retaliating for his previous actions. Well, all hell broke loose after that.
A line brawl went into motion with Evegeny Davydov the first to jump the bench. All bets were off now as both teams cleared the benches. Valdimir Konstantinov broke Greg Hagwood’s nose, Mike Keane dummied Valeri Zelepukin, Stephane Roy got pretty much jumped and yet nobody stopped it. The inexperience of the refs assigned to this game played a pretty big factor in this melee.
Then the refs left the rink. Beautiful. How do you stop two big, bad hockey countries from killing? Well, you shut the lights off! That’s how!
Anyway, the brawl was eventually simmered down and the game canceled. The IIHF threw out both teams and suspended them. We may have not won gold, but that event is the exact reason why Canadians care about junior hockey so much.
1. Men’s Olympic Team – Vancouver, Canada 2010
Okay. I’ll admit it on the internet. I was in the bathroom when Sidney Crosby scored the “golden” goal. That was the only part of the tournament I missed. Yes, I’m a horrible Canadian. That being said, I’ve never EVER seen a country come together like Canada did for that game, hell, for those Olympics. Everyone was beaming with pride at every moment.
That’s the reason it takes the top spot. Not because we won gold, not because of hockey but because of our love for Canada. The red and white. The true north strong and free. The patriotism this country had for those cold two weeks in February 2010 might not ever be felt again in my lifetime. Hell, I was on the other side of the country but you could still feel it. I hope every Canadian, and I mean every Canadian, where ever you are in the world, gets a chance to feel like I did that day. Proud of your country.
Joy Tottman is a well-known name among British hockey circles. She’s been apart of Ice Hockey UK as well as the IIHF for over 15 years. What’s even better is she is a strong woman at the top of her game. The past Olympics in Sochi, Russia was her third consecutive time officiating the Winter Games and she held the honour of being selected to run the ice for the women’s gold medal game between Canada and the United States. I caught up with her to shed a little insight into what makes a strong woman referee and to give women here in Canada a chance at stepping into another part of the best sport on Earth.
March Hockey: How did you get involved in hockey? What made you head into the disciplinary part of the game?
Joy Tottman: I first started refereeing at the age of 12. I had wanted to learn how to skate and my dad had taken me to our local rink and given me the choice of playing hockey or figure skating and I chose hockey. I was playing under 10s and when we had games no officials were turning up. My dad was one of the only parents who could skate and so he took the referee course so that we could play our games. He would then have to stay on to referee the games after my game and so he got me to take the course too so I could stay on with him. I started to enjoy the refereeing and made the switch to just refereeing at a really young age. I guess it was a way for me to be involved in the game without the physical element of playing in a boy’s team.
MH: This past Olympics was your third. How do you prepare mentally and physically for an event of that size?
JT:The physical preparation was a huge part of going to the Sochi Olympics. There was a pre-Olympic selection camp in August 2013 where we were tested on and off the ice. I had a trainer for off-ice who I saw 3 times a week and then did my own programme on the other days. Because I have a day job this meant training at 6am each morning. The mental preparation for me was all about getting game experience throughout the season and of course over the years. Making sure that I focused on each game and learned from the situations within it. It was about putting myself mentally in a place where I knew I was prepared and had done everything possible to be in the best shape and best frame of mind for the games.Continue reading “One on One with Olympic official Joy Tottman”
It’s Olympic season so I thought I’d take a little trip down memory lane. It’s not such a great memory but one that sticks out of Canada’s hockey history like a sore thumb. The lessons learned at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan were pivotal to the shape of how Team Canada creates and maintains it’s roster in the present time. Sit back and enjoy the tale of Team Canada and Czech Republic’s quest for hockey gold.
The 1998 Canadian Men’s Olympic hockey team came into Nagano looking for a score to settle with the United States. Just two years earlier, the US captured gold at the 1996 World Cup. What both teams didn’t expect though, was neither of them even medaling.
The Canadian team was put together with once again gold in mind. With it being the first time the National Hockey League would take a break from their regular season and allow NHL players to compete, household names such as Patrick Roy, Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic, Scott Stevens, and Martin Brodeur complemented the greatest player in the world. That player named Wayne Gretzky.
With a stacked team at hand, Team Canada made its way to the medal round with a perfect 3-0 record. Wins came from the beatings of Belarus, Sweden and the aforementioned Team USA. While coming into the game against Kazakhstan a bit cocky, the hockey gods bestowed its power against the red and white. Proving just anything can happen in Olympic sport, Joe Sakic strained a knee ligament and was out for the rest of the tournament. The not so good turning point for Team Canada.
Entering the semifinals against the Czech Republic, Team Canada again once had the advantage. The Czechs iced a team that at the time only had 10 players on its roster playing in the NHL. Things were neck and neck and anxiety was at an all time high as both teams entered the third period with a score knotted at one.
The Canadian team was carefully put together by none other than Mr. Broadstreet Bully, Bobby Clarke. With a little input from head coach Marc Crawford, the Team Canada brass was beaming with pride with their selections. On paper, there was no way anyone could come close. Back home, some of the choices were controversial. Eric Lindros was named captain ahead of the likes of Gretzky, Yzerman and Raymond Borque. Clarke’s pick of Lindros may have been a bit biased as he was General Manager of Lindros’ Flyers at the time. A sleeper pick that had heads shaking was Rob Zamuner. Continue reading “Turning Japanese: Team Canada and the dreaded Nagano shootout”
Look, I’m the biggest patriotic Canadian in my neck of the woods but I know reality when I see it. Of course, I will be cheering my heart out for the boys in red and white but I truly don’t think gold is in the cards this time around. Maybe I’m just a realist.
Maybe this article will come and bite me in the ass.
While Team Canada is indeed sending over an impressive and stacked team to the frozen Olympic ice of Sochi, Russia, there are plenty of details that pile up against them in their run to make a repeat at winning gold.
A few solid lines of forwards (we do have the best forwards in the tournament, no doubt) and defense is not enough when it comes to international competition. It may get by in the NHL, but not on the world stage. You need impeccable goaltending. With Team Canada selecting Roberto Luongo, Carey Price, and Mike Smith, I just don’t think that’s enough to hack it.
That’s not their fault however. Our goaltending hasn’t been up to snuff in years. When these 3 goalies are hot, they’re insanely hot. The key is to catch them on their good streaks because when they’re bad, they’re downright terrible. Thankfully, Carey Price has been standing on his head for the Canadiens lately so that is something to get excited for.
Another big factor is the size of the ice. Olympic style rinks and European/Russian rinks in general are bigger then the NHL and North American ones. This has proved to be detrimental to Team Canada in numerous international tournaments, not just the Olympics. On top of which, hockey is played in an entirely different way; it’s more about speed and stick handling compared to our well known physical game. Luckily some of our players have had the chance to play in European leagues during the lock out so that might be a bit of an advantage but it won’t be enough.
Lastly, Russia will have the biggest advantage of everyone as they are the home country. Now, I now the Cold War has come and gone, the Summit Series is a twinkle in everyone’s eye but I still wouldn’t put anything past them in terms of sabotage. Hell, it’s 2014, I shouldn’t have to be thinking like this but the reality is I am. With all the media surrounding the Games and with the likes of a few players on the American team telling their families to stay home for fear of violence, it’s just in the back of my mind.
Hopefully everything I’ve written here turns out wrong. Hopefully Team Canada does in fact repeat. Hell, hopefully they’ll medal. The odds are good yet the goods are odd.
For some strange reason that I can’t seem to explain, I have never been fond of Jamie Benn. Maybe it’s because he’s on a west coast team and I have an east coast bias that’s been instilled into me since the day I was born. He just never really stood out to me.
That is, until this year.
Since being named captain, the Dallas Stars franchise player has come around full circle in my eyes and I’m finally starting to see what the fuss is all about (not that my opinion matters in this vast world of hockey but I digress). Maybe it’s because he finally has rock solid linemates in Tyler Seguin and Valeri Nichushkin but the kid is setting up and finishing plays like there’s no tomorrow.
In terms of points, Benn is notched at 36 and when we look at Canadian players in the NHL, that’s only one behind the likes of Claude Giroux and Matt Duchene. It also puts him ahead of Team Canada veterans Eric Staal and Logan Couture who some say are shoe ins. In my eyes, Benn has proven himself worthy enough over any of those four this season.
While projecting a Team Canada roster, you’ll have arguably the best gold medal team at any given time on paper. Let’s not kid ourselves here though. I’m a proud Canadian but let’s face it, facts are facts. This is the Olympics. In Russia. (With sub-par goaltending.) History doesn’t like Canadians on foreign ice. Olympic and European sized rinks require speed, finesse and stick handling abilities.
Hopefully Stevie Y and company got a good look at last night’s game between the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens. Subban was just filthy in his win for the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge. His style of play is perfect and is built for international play. In a game that could have went either way, both Benn and Subban looked remarkable and are definitely making sure their names get brought up during roster selection.
The boys are golden and the streak is staying alive.
Team Canada powered through the Russians in the semi final yesterday and then shutout the Americans today to capture their sixth straight gold medal at the U18 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament in Breclav, Czech Republic. Chicoutimi Sagueneens netminder Julio Billia picked up his second shutout of the tournament with the 4-0 win.
Oshawa Generals forward Michael Dal Colle’s first goal was all the Canadians needed to put away the Americans. Brandon Wheat Kings’ Jayce Hawryluk and Barrie Colts forwards Aaron Ekblad and Brendan Lemieux added the extra cushion for the red and white. Billia managed just 21 saves.
The story of the tournament is powerhouse forward Spencer Watson of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. He lead the tournament with an astonishing 10 points (four goals, six assists) with three helpers coming from today’s final. Watson and his Kingston teammate Sam Bennett each scored once in Canada’s 3-1 semi final victory over Russia.
Canada is proving that their up and coming junior stars are strong and willing to play. There’s no shortage of talent across the board in every league and every position. This includes goaltending where Hockey Canada is extremely concerned. The list of next year’s NHL draftees are going to be long and no shortage of depth and will have NHL general managers making some very tough decisions.
In the bronze medal game, the Czech Republic edged Russia with a 3-2 win.
Kingston Frontenacs forward Spencer Watson has been an unstoppable force for Team Canada at the 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament in Breclav, Czech Republic. Today’s game finished in dramatic fashion as both teams kept fans on the edge of their seat.
Watson’s latest expenditure came at the hands of Team Switzerland where the Swiss forced Canada into a shootout. The Swiss rallied in the second and third period to tie the game up at three. Watson prevailed and notched the shootout winner to seal the deal and has had at least one point in each round robin game. Team Canada sits on top of the group A standings and will head to the semi finals.
Canada’s other goals came from Watson’s Kingston teammate Sam Bennett, Barrie Colts scoring machine and Team Canada leader Aaron Ekblad and Moose Jaw Warriors forward Brayden Point. Watson also picked up an assist on Point’s goal. Chicoutimi Sagueneens goaltender Julio Billia picked up his second win of the tournament.
This pivotal win gives Team Canada a playoff berth where they will face the Russians on Friday. Canada is going for its sixth gold medal in a row at this tournament.
In group B action, Team USA won their final game of round robin competition to finish on top of the standings. Three members of the Portland Winterhawks picked up points in their 5-2 victory over Slovakia. The United States will now face the host nation of Czech Republic in other semi final match up on Friday.
Team Canada suffered their first loss at the hands of Team Sweden at the U18 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament today. However, Sweden suffered it’s own loss as starting goaltender Jesper Eriksson left the game.
Jared McCann of the Soo Greyhounds put Canada on the board first but it was Sweden who retaliated with three straight in the first period. Two of those goals came from Swedish sharpshooter Kevin Elgestal.
The Swedes carried their 3-1 lead into the third period but Sam Bennett had other ideas as he pulled Canada within one with goal coming at 3:54. However it was short lived as Micheal Nylander Altelius put Sweden on top by two once again. Spencer Watson notched a powerplay goal for the red and white near the end of the third but it proved to be not enough as Sweden hung on to a 4-3 victory.
Not all went well for Team Sweden though as starting netminder Jesper Eriksson left the game in the third period after colliding with a Canadian player who had been tripped. Eriksson is rumored to have broken his leg and will be out for the remainder of the tournament and possibly his upcoming season. A penalty was called against Sweden on the play.
Team Canada’s record falls to 1-1-0 as they powered over the Czech Republic with a 4-0 victory on Monday. Their next game comes in the form of Team Switzerland who actually formulated a win against Sweden in their second game of action. That game is set to take place on Wednesday at Alcapast Arena in Breclav, Czech Republic.
Team Canada blanked the Czech Republic at a score of 4-0 in their first official game at the 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament. The Canadians put on a show and dazzled the crowd with their hockey sense and ability. Team Canada is made up of the best junior players from the WHL, OHL and QMJHL.
Starting goaltender, and QMJHL Chicoutimi Sagueneens netminder. Julio Billia earned his first shutout of the tournament and picked up Player of the Game honors as well for Canada.
Newly appointed team captain, and Barrie Colts forward Aaron Ekblad added a pair of assists in the win along with a goal and an assist from sharpshooter Michael Dal Colle.
Dal Colle’s power play goal in the first period was the first of two as Hayden Fleury added his own. Kingston’s Spencer Watson added to the scorecard with his goal coming off of a penalty shot in the second period. The scoring stopped in the third period with Sherbrooke Phoenix’s forward Daniel Audette notching the final and Team Canada’s third power play goal.
Czech Republic seemed to spend an awful long of time in the penalty box as they took 7 over the course of the game.
The action at the 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament continues tomorrow. Team Canada will be back at the Alcapast Arena in Breclav, Czech Republic as they enter their second game of the tourney, taking on team Sweden.