Eat, sleep, Hockey, repeat.
Today started at eight o’clock. In the gym for ten past and sweating like a Canucks fan near the Stanley Cup (a hockey joke for those who don’t get the reference) forty five minutes later, after completing what I’d say was the most enjoyable treadmill run ever. An on screen personal trainer accompanied by Sportsnet covering all the days English football, all at the comfort of each individual runner. Certainly a step up from the Leeds Trinity treadmills! A brisk swim after, meant the day had started well, on what was a very overcast and wet day. Just like being back in Derbyshire. But there wasn’t a chance in hell the weather would get my spirits down!
For the next 17 days, over 1020 minutes of Ice Hockey action, will keep myself, alongside the whole of Canada, on the edge of our seats, as the the Maple Leaf crested Team Canada battle it out for the remodelled Ice Hockey World Cup. Eight teams, the very best players and coaches a like will take to the ice at Air Canada Center, Toronto, with all eyes firmly fixed on the flashy looking silverware.
So what better way to start. USA vs Team Europe.
Team Europe consists of player from roughly eight european nations. An underdog as far as championionship winning credentials were concerned but it seemed that something was there giving them the upper hand. USA on the other hand are again regarded as one of the tournament favourites. Boasting a lineup full of headline names and arguably the best goalie trio in the tournament (although personally Team Canada has the upper hand here) surely the result would be predictable but not comfortable in favour of Team USA.
Before the game an upset was predicted, and this is exactly what happened.
A standout performance from Goalie Jaroslav Halak, led Team Europe to what seemed, in the end, a pretty regulation victory. Goals from Gaborik, Draisaitl and Bellemare were enough to round of a solid first performance for the European stars. In fairness, the vast majority of clear goal scoring chances fell to Europe in a game that ebbed and flowed to both ends of the ice. Sloppy American passing led to the sides downfall as they began to beat themselves it seemed. Poor penalties taken and a slow breakout game meant Team Europe coped relatively well in their defensive zone and with Halak standing tall in goal the win was becoming clearer and clearer as the game went on. The final buzzer seemed to come as somewhat a relief to USA with their only crowd pleasing moment the goal that was ruled to have been scored illegally.
Tough luck some would say but Team Europe were well worthy of the shutout and putting the first points on the board.
Game two of the day would see the hosts Team Canada take on the Czech Republic who some had tipped as a dark horse going in to the tournament after a very impressive pre-tournament schedule.
A packed out arena, over 15000 fans crammed in to watch the nations superstars take to the ice for the first time. Led by golden boy Sidney Crosby, Canada showcased a roster full of depth and talent alike, making it nigh on impossible to pinpoint a weakness in the side. The Czechs were a hard working bunch who seemed to specialise at keeping games close but tonight it seemed they took the night off.
Final score, Team Canada 6- 0 Czech Republic.
A six star performance? If that’s possible I’d give it that. Right from the get go Team Canada appeared to take the game to the Czech’s, in what was a very physical game. Captain Sidney Crosby led from the front by putting Canada on the board early, and the Mike Babcock’s side never looked back from there. Again a tale of the winning goalie as Carey Price, who’s starting position was questioned by some, when considering the time spent recovering from the injury sustained last November, was immens through all 60 minutes. Goals from Marchand, Thornton, Pietrangelo, Bergeron and Toews rounded off the scoring, and sent the home fans into frenzy after a exquisite opening display.
From here on out things can only get better for Team Canada, and with Team USA up next in what could be a must win for the team from south of the border, the standard of play this coming Tuesday should be incredible. Tomorrow sees hotly tipped Team Russia face-off against Sweden, whilst the later game will see the young blood of Team North America take on Finland. After the opening day fireworks the bar has been set for the rest to now raise at their own will.
With it just gone midnight here (when I wrote it anyway) my bed is calling. So for now, good night!