Saturday, January 5, 2008

True North Strong and Gold

Team Canada held on to win the gold as the Swedes stormed back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game late in the third period.

An OT victory makes the gold medal even sweeter.

Stefan Legein, one of my favourite players on this team, said during an interview before the Finland game that Canada would win the gold.

After that game, the Canadians lined up (as usual) and sang O Canada. When the camera landed on Legein, he said, "Two more, two more baby, two more."

Fast forward to the end of the Canada/USA game yesterday, and Legein was saying, "One more baby, one more."

Today, Legein (with his right arm in a sling after separating his shoulder) was saying, "I TOLD YOU CANADA, I TOLD YOU!!!"

Yes, you did.


I am truly grateful for TSN's extensive coverage of the World Juniors because, not only do they provide us with each and every Canadian game, but they also give us groundbreaking, behind the scenes stories. Stories like "The Nicknames," and Legein's Geno Reda impression. We are all able to see just how close this team is - and their sense of humour.

One of the funniest things that TSN caught onto was the 'Post Goal Smooch.' Every time Canada scored a goal, the goal scorer got a nice big kiss from his teammates. It was usually on his helmet, or through the cage (like Simmonds on Tavares). And the guys were in a kissing mood after today's game, as evidenced by Legein's wet one on C-Bul (TSN's James Cybulski) after getting a towel full of whipped cream in the face.


Watching these games are like watching the Stanley Cup playoffs for me, and winning the gold is as exciting as winning the Cup.

I love how excited the guys are after winning, and how they enthusiastically sing O Canada (even though many can't sing).

I loved how these guys got the huge flag down from the upper bowl and waved it on the ice in tribute to the thousands of fans who flew over to the Czech Republic to support the team.

I love how the guys bring the trophy over the boards and into the crowd to share their victory with the fans.

I love how thousands of fans make the trip overseas to support Team Canada. Most of this year's group of fans stayed in Prague, which is a 60-90 minute train trip from Pardubice, and I hear the trips have been wild.

I love how countless current and former NHL players (including Gretzky, Toews, and Doan), Prime Minister Stephen Harper and thousands of fans call the team and send faxes and emails, wishing them the best of luck.

I love how Sam Gagner of the Edmonton Oilers watched yesterday's Canada/USA game at home with his Team Canada jersey on his back.

I love how NHL players, like Jason Spezza, watched the game even though they played tonight.

I love how Daniel Alfredsson lost his bet with Ottawa Senators' owner Eugene Melnyk and will have to wear a Team Canada jersey at practice on Monday.

I love how fans across the nation will take a sick day in order to watch big hockey games, and how kids sometimes watch the big games at school.

I love how Canada also won the Spengler Cup and the World U-17 tournaments this week.

I love how Canadians are not ashamed of saying that we excel at hockey and that we expect a gold medal, even though we (generally) don't like saying that we're good at other sports.

I love the hockey stories that are on TV all the time, like the story about the little kid who got a goal in his first game, and on his second breakaway he passed the puck to a kid on the other team and told him mom that it was okay because it was the other kid's turn.

I love the absolute national pride I feel when I watch Team Canada play.

What a great day.


Stoosh said...

I LOVE the NHL Network for picking this up and showing it in the US...for those 10 or 15 of us in the States that actually give a damn about this tournament.

Congrads to you and Canada, Ash! What a well-played tournament, especially the last two games. Canada deserved to win. You guys pounded us in the semis, and I was glad to see them hold on and fight through some adversity there in the third period (some of those calls...ugh) to win it in OT.

I actually thought the US team might have had a shot this year, but it wasn't to be. Even worse, we came out completely flat today against the Russians and waited until the third period to start playing. There were rumblings of some finger-pointing in the US locker room after the loss to Canada, and it carried over to today, I think. If it's true, this is twice in three years that a US team has been marred by chemistry issues. Maybe it changes next year and the players who will be back will remember the sting of losing to Russia.

Anyway, congrads again. Have a celebratory beer or drink of choice for those of us south of the border who love this tournament and let's look forward to 2009 in Ottawa!

Stoosh said...

And hey, did Mason drop an "F" bomb in one of the postgame interviews? I thought I heard that, but I wasn't sure.

Ashley said...

Thanks Stoosh! I'm still on cloud nine...and I'm glad that Canucks aren't the only ones who give a damn about the World Juniors.

Not sure if Mason dropped an "F" bomb or not. I actually wondered the same thing, but I thought that maybe he caught himself before letting it out. I remember Jonathan Toews let the "F" bomb fly last year - it was F'in hilarious.

I thought that the US had a real shot at winning this tournament too. I was worried as hell when we faced them in the semis, and I was surprised at how Team USA handled things. I didn't expect them to fold under the pressure, but I don't think it will happen again in Ottawa.

So, with orange juice in hand, here's to international hockey and the World Juniors!