CANADA vs. USA
The teams are on the ice warming-up surrounded by more red and white than I’ve ever seen. Canadian fans are really representing today, they outnumber the Yankees 10-1 right now.
Roberto Luongo got a lot of cheers when his name was announced as backup netmidner, but it was nothing compared to the reception Alexandre Bilodeau got prior to puck drop.
Bilodeau, who has “skyrocketed from relative obscurity to Gretkzyesque celebrity” according to the Toronto Star, received even louder cheers than Wayne Gretzky when he was interviewed before the game.
Ironically, Gretzky went over to congratulate Bilodeau on winning Canada’s first ever gold medal on home soil as the pair are only a luxury suite away from each other. Sweet.
On the ice the Americans were quick to mute the Canadian crowd scoring just 41 seconds in. Brian Rafalaski’s point shot grazed the shaft of Sidney Crosby’s stick in front and eluded a helpless Martin Brodeur.
Canada responded by dishing out some pain in the form of hits, highlighted by Rick Nash’s how-you-doin’ on Jamie Langenbrunner in front of the player benches.
The Canadians were on the board at the 11:07 mark when Brent Seabrook’s shot from a ways out was deflected in by Eric Staal.
The tie was as short lived as my American Idol audition with Rafalski putting the US back on top 22 seconds later.
Shots are 19-6 for Canada after the first period.
Ryan Kesler wasn’t much of a factor, but he’s getting used to new teammates skating with Patrick Kane and Bobby Ryan.
The battle for full naming rights to North America remains on the line and in the second period the US wanted it a little more.
Canada tied the game 3:32 into the middle stanza; it was Jonathan Toews with some nice work behind the American net, he threw the puck on goal and it found the stick of Dany Heatley for the easy goal.
The hits continued with Nash leveling Jack Johnson while he was sitting, waiting, wishing, the worst hit of the period went to Staal though, as he ran into Corey Perry in the Canada zone. Both are fine.
The United States took the lead with 3:14 left on a play that began with a little goalie interference on Brodeur from David Beckes. Caught out of position after being bumped, Brodeur panicked and dove to poke check a shot that never materialized leaving Chris Drury with a big empty net to shoot at.
It’s 3-2 US after two periods of play.
I never know what to think of foreigners, are they always confused or just quirky?
About 15 rows behind where Brodeur spent the second period there are two full rows of fans in jerseys that seriously stand out. Half are yellow and blue for Sweden, the other half white and blue for Finland.
Sweden doesn’t play Finland until the final game today; did those fans confuse game times and buy tickets to the wrong contest or are they being quirky?
From the looks on their not smiling, always grimacing, no clapping, not enjoying being so fortunate to be at this game in person faces, I’d say they messed up.
(Insert Swedish/Finnish curse word here)
Move over Bilodeau, you’ve been trumped. Already.
Who’s hanging out with Canada’s gold medalist in the luxury suite beside The Great One, only Jon Montgomery, Canada’s most recent gold medalist and a fellow Manitoban.
Canada Hockey Place went bananas when he was introduced. The roof actually lifted, although it didn’t.
When the team’s returned to the ice for the third, Canada had a change up front with Jarome Iginla reunited with Crosby and Nash.
Canada’s penalty trouble prevented the top line, or any trio, from doing any damage early on. Instead it was America hitting the board with 12:51 to play.
Langenbrunner, who parked his caboose in front of Brodeur with Shea Weber and Chris Pronger unable to lodge him, tipped a Rafalski point shot in for the power play score and a 4-2 US lead.
Desperate times called for desperate measures and line juggling was the solution to Mike Babcock. Crosby was bumped from the top unit for Joe Thornton and although they generated a bit of offence, it was Crosby that found the scoresheet next.
On the power play Nash hit Crosby with a pass at the side of the goal, he tipped it through Miller without the goalie being any the wiser.
Welcome back Canada.
Still needing a goal with 3:19 to play, Canada pulled out all the stops. It was intense. But it wasn’t enough.
Ryan Kesler netted a free goal with Brodeur on the bench with 44.7 seconds remaining to seal the deal. USA wins 5-3.
Click here to see what Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo had to say about the American win