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Belfast Went Fast

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Prague, Czech Republic - The Bruins traveled from Belfast to Prague on Sunday afternoon and by Monday morning the sounds of tin flutes had faded into the distance.

Boston Bruins, Zdeno Chara (33) celebrates with Mark Stuart after scoring the third goal against the Belfast Giants Selects during the preseason NHL hockey game in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010. (AP Photo)
But before leaving, the Black & Gold had a little time to reflect on their time in the UK, the Giants Selects and about playing hockey in front of the boisterous fans in Belfast.

"Yeah, like I’ve been saying, I was very, very surprised in a positive way," said Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara of the B's 5-1 over the Elite League's all-star squad. "They played well.

"I mean, you could see that those guys have played overseas. They had some skills and for them it was awesome...a big game.

"And, for sure, when they got the lead, you could see that their fans were behind them and...I felt that, for a little while, we were in trouble

"They played really well."

Chara said he was NOT shocked to see the enthusiasm displayed by the home fans in Belfast.

"No, no, no.  I mean, we knew that that’s what they tried to establish over here," explained Chara, "to have similar kind of hockey as we have back in North America.

"They want to have something different from original European hockey leagues.  They want to have that...North American style. You know, some guys who can score, guys who play with a lot of energy, guys who can fight.

"You know, we knew about that, so for sure we knew that it wouldn’t be easy," he said.

Goaltender Tuukka Rask said that he had no expectations, good or bad, for what he would find, hockey-wise, in Belfast.

"You know what? I was just talking to Timmy [Tim Thomas] before the game," he said. "I didn’t know what to expect. I don’t know any of those guys, you know.

"But they played good.

"I thought they would have less shots than that actually, but they really battled hard and they got some scoring chances too, but it was a good game," he said.

Rask added that his time in Belfast had been enjoyable.

"It’s been great," he said. "You know, seeing the city of Belfast has been great.

"The people have been great, and, you know, practicing here a couple of days and really trying to score some goals in the game and get the win, so it’s been a good experience.

"I’ve got to thank everybody in Belfast for being so generous to us."

Tuukka enjoyed the atmostphere in Odyssey arena, as well.

"It was good," he said. "I think they have the drums going...pand] cheerleaders, so I thought it was a good atmosphere.\

"I think, [after] I talked to some media people earlier’s really a hockey city.

"They like hockey, so it was really a great experience," he said.

Concentrating on the hockey-side of the trip, Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien gave his assessment.

"I don’t think it was a surprise. I think we all knew they were going to be really motivated to play against us," said Julien. "Obviously, it took us a while to get going.

"I give credit to our guys for sticking with it and finding a way to get our team going there, past the half way mark.

"We scored some goals, we hit some posts, and, you know, not our best game, but still a better game than the last one, so we’re heading in the right direction."

That direction would be due east, to Prague, and a pair of dates with the Phoenix Coyotes to start the 2010-11 regular season.
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