There is a saying "Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want." Canada's loss to the Czech Republic earlier in the preliminary round of the 2006 World Hockey Championships might have been a blessing in disguise for our club. We had been cruising along undefeated in four games, when we started slow against the Czechs and found ourselves behind 3-0 in the first period. We came back to tie it up 4-4 but a lesson was learned. The next night we played tournament favorite, Finland and we were ready from the get-go. Defeating the Finns 4-2 was a big confidence booster for Team Canada.
The Finns had 12 players who had played for their country in the 2006 Gold medal game at the Winter Olympics. I joked that our young team "probably didn't have 12 kids who stayed up to watch the Gold medal game." So too did Team USA bounce back from an earlier wake up call, and won a huge game last night defeating the Czech Republic. The preliminary games are over and today we start the meat and potatoes of this elite tournament. If you lose a game now, your gold medal dreams are over. Conversely, if any team can get on a three game win streak, they win the Gold!
Team Canada plays the SlovaksÃ¢â‚¬Â¦needless to say I'm glad they are without the services of Coyotes' forward Ladislav Nagy. We are uncertain whether they'll have big Zedeno Chara or Andrej Meszaros who have just become available to their country with the defeat of the Ottawa Senators in the Stanley Cup playoffs. We do know they have one of the top forwards in the NHL in the person of Marian Hossa.
Team USA plays Sweden tonight, and the Swedes will have to bounce back from their defeat by the Slovaks. With a core of Detroit Red Wings players like Zetterberg, Kronwall, and Samuelsson, the Swedes are very capableÃ¢â‚¬Â¦and they may be adding Daniel Alfredsson!
The Russians play the Czechs tomorrow which means one of those two strong hockey countries will be eliminated from the Gold medal game. And make no mistake about it...we are only here to bring back the Gold. To others, a silver or bronze might be welcomed, but with Team Canada and its rich history of hockey, I know that there would be zero celebration with a medal other than the Golden one.
I'm confidant that the speed of our young Canadian team should serve us well if we play our game tonight. Team USA is getting better every game and can get by the Swedes with a unified effort. If we both can prevail today in our respective games, guess what our reward is? We'd then play each other on Friday to see who'd go on to the Gold medal game! First let's both take care of business today.