Day 12 - 14 - Wednesday, May 9 through Sunday, May 11
I am a little late in writing this blog because I have been battling with my computer charger for the last few days, while also having three games in four nights. Luckily for me, 'Goose' (Alex Goligoski) has let me borrow a charger for the night so I can get this entry written.
Since the last time I wrote, there has been a lot of action for Team USA and myself. Not only did we clinch a spot in the quarterfinals, but I started my first international hockey game! Also, the guest program kicked into play and I was able to have my fiancé Devyn meet me here in Helsinki. Overall, these few days have been really great.
The bulk of the tournament was in these past few days, so this was where we could either separate ourselves or make it hard to get into the medal rounds. It all started on Thursday, when we had a 4:15 p.m. game against Belarus. After losing the game before against Slovakia, we knew this was a must-win to give ourselves the best chance to play more hockey in this tournament. We also knew it was not going to be an easy game, because they were a team that was hanging in with everyone they were playing. The first period was good for us and we were able to be up 2-1 at the first intermission. The second period saw both teams score a goal each and leave it at 3-2 heading to the final frame. The third period was great hockey from our guys and we closed it out with a big win, 5-3. We were all were excited to be back winning again, as there really is no better feeling than winning.
I was excited as well, because after the game I heard from the coach that I was going to be starting the next game vs. Kazakhstan. There was a lot of different emotions that were going through my mind at that point... I wanted to stay relaxed, I was trying not to think too much and I just wanted to enjoy it as much as I could. When the game rolled around the next day at 4:15 p.m. again, it was a lot easier-said-than-done to stay calm and relaxed. I was playing in my first full game in about a month's time, so that didn't help the situation, but it was great to pull that jersey on and stand under the flags during the national anthem.
When the game got going, it was back to the usual of 'just have fun and play the game.' After making a couple saves, I was able to get in a rhythm and that's when it becomes a lot easier. The first period went well for me, but unfortunately it went really well for the Kazakhstan goalie too. He stood on his head!! In the second period, we got on the board first to make it 1-0, then with just a couple minutes to go in the period, Kazakhstan was able to score a power play goal to tie it up. Again, their goalie was playing so well and in the third, we traded another goal apiece to end regulation, 2-2. This was a bit of a shot, as we were heavy favorites. Kazakhstan played hard though and, like I said, their goalie played out of his mind. In overtime, we got many chances to score but it wasn't until about 20 seconds left that we put in a nice goal from the slot. It was my first game, and my first win, in international play, and the feeling was great!
To make the night more special, I was able to have my fiancé in the stands for the first win. She (Devyn) landed as the game started and went straight to the rink from the airport after a day-and-a-half of travel. That is a trooper for you! After the game, we had dinner with a bunch of the guys and their girlfriends/wives before heading to bed early. She was exhausted and I was a little as well, plus we needed our rest for the Finland game coming up in a couple days.
My next post will be about Finland game and our Helsinki ferry tour...