World Junior Hockey Round Up
A few thoughts on the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships.
A tip of the toque to the young men of the United States' team and their classy coach Dean Blais for their gold medal win at this years World Junior Hockey Championships.
The Americans have brought more talented players to the tournament and often underachieved. This was a team, not a group of individuals, and they finally showed they could win the most important game. Coach Blais decided to take a page from Canada's book last summer and hold a try-out camp instead of simply naming players to the US team. “I didn't want a bunch of fancy Dans who wouldn't play both ends and were cocky and arrogant and I didn't have that team,” Blais said. “We picked guys with good character and yeah, we got a few breaks, but win or lose, I think we had the right guys here.”
The US team thrilled fans with their great speed and remarkable transitional game that saw them go from defence to offence in the blink of an eye. Fittingly, it was those attributes that got them the wining goal in over time on Tuesday night.
Looking at the American roster it is interesting to note the players are no longer coming from only the “3 M's” (Minnesota, Michigan, and Massachusetts). Washington, Nevada, New York, Missouri, and New Jersey were all represented on the gold medal team. Hopefully, it bodes well for the growth of junior hockey in the United States. The Americans will get a chance to defend the gold medal on home ice in Buffalo next year.
Neither was this Canada's most talented team, and it is difficult to be critical of a program that has produced 5 consecutive gold medals. With a break here or there, it could have been a record setting 6th. Surely, the hockey gods have smiled on Jordon Eberle with his uncanny ability to score clutch goals. But to even the most casual observer of the New Year's Eve Hollywood ending, there was a disturbing sub-plot. It was a story of turn overs, defensive break downs, a lack of discipline, and a sputtering power play. To a certain extent it continued in the gold medal game. Throw in some shaky goal tending and the dye was cast.
Having said that, Hockey Canada has, no doubt, already shrugged off this loss and is eying next year's gold medal. Fans often marvel at the heart and sand paper grit of the Canadians, and character is indeed a big part of any Canadian team, but it is Hockey Canada's “Program of Excellence,” that targets the gold medal each year, and sets forth to destroy opponents with a terminator like efficiency. In Buffalo, they'll be back.
Sweden took the bronze medal. There is a growing concern on the international junior scene about a widening gap between Canada, the US and Sweden and rest of the pack. The Russians continue to produce great individual players, but not so great teams. This year's team looked unprepared and could not overcome the trapping Swiss
World Junior Hockey Championships All Star Team
Goalie: Benjamin Conz, Switzerland
Defence: Alex Pietrangelo, Canada
Defence: John Carlson, USA
Forward: Jordan Eberle, Canada
Forward: Derek Stepan, USA
Forward: Nino Niederreiter, Switzerland
Tournament MVP: Jordon Eberle, Canada
The gold medal game was watched by an average of 5.3 million people and peaked at 7.5 million people during the third period, according to TSN. That makes it the most watched program on Canadian television since 2005.