Never have I ever… Been so awe-inspired by watching the raw talent of the worlds finest sportsmen, than I have in these past few days.
On the eve of freshers week for the students back home in Leeds, I find myself sat 5,500 kilometres away sipping on a Starbucks coffee after watching the young hotshots of the National Hockey League cruise to a 4-1 win over Team Finland. So what better way to start this latest chapter of my blog than to use a University drinking game hit that has led to many strange stories being told.
However, my story won’t be as strange as some that will be going around the Leeds Trinity campus this coming week. Sorry to disappoint, but if you know what’s best for yourself you’ll still keep reading this finely written piece…
A lie in, this meant not getting out of bed today until 8:30am, switching on Sportsnet and seeing that Louis Van Gaal had returned to Man United. Well with the way they were playing it certainly seemed that way. After getting the football out the way, a brisk walk round the lakeside was much needed. The sun was out yet again and hardly a cloud in sight. An iced mocha from Tim Hortons set the tone for what turned out to be a pretty chilled day, as we again headed to the Air Canada Centre around two o’clock.
Two games, featuring the likes of Alex Ovechkin and the Sedin twins, was enough to water anyone’s mouth as the two heavyweights Team Russia and Team Sweden faced-off in the early start. The big question leading up to the game was who would come out on top. Russia’s fierce offensive firepower or Sweden’s dogged blue line consisting of some of the NHL’s best defenceman.
Surprise number one of the day. Henrik Lundqvist would not dress for Team Sweden. ‘The King’ as he’s best known, had failed to overcome the flu, so step forward NHL backup Jacob Markstrom to fill between the pipes.
Ultimately it seemed Russia had gained the upper hand and with the offensive talent they had to their disposal, Markstrom would have a very busy day.
Take nothing away from Sweden, they controlled the game from minute one. Goals from Gabriel Landeskog and Victor Hedman seemed to be enough as Russia posed little threat. With the Swede’s blue line keeping shots on goal to a minimum a Russian goal was hard to see coming but with little time left step forward Mr Alexander Ovechkin. A shadow for most of the game but when needed, stepped up with a goal to set up a frantic final minute. After holding on for so long, Sweden looked destined to win, until…
With seven seconds left on the clock a shot from the point by Vladimir Tarasenko was deflected up into the air and bundled home by that man again. The great 8.
To his amazement, the officials waved the goal off straight away. An impressive amount of supporters for both teams were left with contrasting emotions as the replay showed it had in fact been directed into the net with his glove, opposed to the stick like the number 8 pleaded with the officials to believe. So that was that, a win for Team Sweden to start off their World Cup.
A frantic ending to game number three of the tournament left the platform for game four to carry on the drama, and so take to the ice North America and Finland.
‘Too young’ they said. ‘Not enough toughness’ they muttered. Win their first game 4-1 no one saw coming. Speedy, agile, aggressive, skilful, hard-working are only a collection of words to describe the skills on show from the Under 23 team. Led by captain Connor McDavid, the young guns took the game to Finland and opened the scoring in a first period controlled by the ‘kids’. The goal song of choice for the North Americans was quite appropriate ‘Opposite to Adults’ and a song that will be heard for many a time.
Jack Eichel, Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and yes, Johhny ‘Hockey’ Gaudreau all found the back of the net to cap off a somewhat impressive display. With a goal disallowed (rightly so) and a goal line clearence from the Finn’s, evidently showed just how offensively powered Team North America are, and will continue to be. Auston Matthews, Matt Murray, Colton Parayko and Dylan Larkin all offered very credible performances as this side will certainly be one to watch.
Having now seen all eight teams compete, it’s clear to see what each team has to offer. Team Canada, as expected, appear to be the most impressive and reassuring performers yet. My money would be placed on Mike Babcock’s side as things stand but you just can’t write anyone off just yet.
The Hockey continues tomorrow as Europe take on the Czech Republic before Russia face-off against North America, on a day that will make or break some tournament aspirations.
By now I think I’ve covered everything on today’s action.
In fact I tell a lie. My Dad felt that it would be rude to leave Canada having not eaten a hotdog whilst watching a sporting event so we treated ourselves to the most heavenly of arena cuisine. If only Sheffield Arena knew what was on offer over here.
That’ll do for now, see you soon folks!