‘It worked out at 95 pence a bottle, yippee ki ya kimo sabe -to quote the famous Bruce Willis’ was my Dads response to buying a 28 bottle crate of coors light this morning. Why the need to buy it? Well they were offering free limited edition socks inside certain crates and I couldn’t help myself. ‘Babsocks’ as they’re called, are pairs of socks that pay homage to the legacy of current Team Canada and Toronto Maple Leafs coach, Mike Babcock. A coaching legend within the game, who’s face will be remembered for years to come.
Today was a case of the morning after the night before. In the wake of USA crashing out of the World Cup of Hockey, I was able to arise with a broad smile on my face. Team Canada had done what was expected of them and dumped the poor US team out of the cup leaving Tortorella’s side hanging their heads in shame.
A later start of nine o’clock felt like somewhat a lie in, after stopping up to catch the end of a very riveting Blue Jays (baseball) game. Since having the luxoury of Sportsnet on our hotel television, we’ve found ourselves fixed on every game that’s been on since arriving. With tickets purchased for next mondays game against the New York Yankees i’m spending my time trying to explain the ins and outs of the game to my Dad.
Having spent the past few days soaking up the Hockey atmosphere we took it upon ourselves to stock upon on alcohol just to add to the occasion. Stopping harbour side in Toronto means the views are second to none. With the small Toronto Island running along side, every walk in and out of the city is made more worthwhile just to see the sights on offer. Fortunately for us we find ourselves in one of the most sporting mad cities in the country. Ice Hockey of course plays a massive part in this but Toronto is also home to the only Canadian Major League Baseball team in the Toronto Blue Jays, that appears to have a fan base like no other. The Major League Soccer is also displayed through the Toronto Rapids and with a game next wednesday we could get our football fix before we head home.
What has been talk of the day for the most part is what wer’re eating and for me, how much it’s costing. Breakfast has been pretty easy, cereal and apples. Two games everyday so far has meant we’ve been restricted to two meals, a lovely Italian roasted chicken made for today’s tea accompanied by a highl recommended tube of Buffalo Ranch pringles.
Before all this however we had a game of Hockey to attended. It was Sweden vs North America. The Swedes had already got one foot in the semi-finals and North America were looking to do the same with a win of their own.
How best to describe this game, than the best so far? It was high paced, skilful, honest, ‘proper’ Hockey. Todd Mclellan’s side got off to a flyer as Auston Matthews buried a rebound beyond a sprawling Henrik Lundqvist. It could so easily have been two only moments later, when Johnny Gaudreau was tugged back on a breakaway and stepped up to take the subsequent penalty shot. An unsuccessful attempt from the Calgary Right Winger, meant the score remained one nil, all be it until Vincent Trocheck slammed home a second. All one way Hockey it seemed but Sweden weren’t to be denied a comeback. A goal from Filip Forsberg that John Gibson will definitely want back, before Johnny Hockey broke away once again and this time, unimpeaded, deked around Lundqvist to make three. A Nicklas Backstrom powerplay goal and a clever tip from, Patrick Berglund equalised to send this game to overtime.
Words cannot describe just how on edge this matchup was, the flair and speed of North America matched with the finesse and experience of Team Sweden made for a game of the tournament contender. If the sixty minutes of regulation time Hockey were anything to go by, overtime would certainly be something else. And so it was.
My oh my. End to end doesn’t cut it. Chance after chance for both teams. Lundqvist robbed McDavid of what seemed to be a certain goal. John Gibson stood on his head to keep North America in the game with a fine double save on a Sedin twin breakaway and then the moment that will be talked about for weeks to come. Some clever board play from the little Johnny Gaudreau, saw two Swedish players drawn to try and win the puck back, leaving Nathan MacKinnon alone all in front of the Swedish net. A pinpoint pass from Gaudreau was taken cleanly by MacKinnon before danngling round ‘the Kings’ poke check and lifting the puck high into the roof of the net. The arena was sent into bedlam following the perfect climax to the most enthralling of games.
So the Canada vs Europe, 1st vs 2nd matchup later in the day had a lot to live up to. It didn’t by a long shot, but still, job done Canada. A comfortable 4-1 victory left the hosts topping the group and setting up a tantalising Saturday night fixture against either old foes Russia or the kids of North America.
Mike Babcock opted to scratch Shea Weber and Ryan Getzlaf, with Jake Muzzin and Claude Giroux coming in. Carey Price was also a healthy scratch with Corey Crawford being awarded the starting role and Braden Holtby taking to the bench. Mr Serious, Johnathon Toews would be to star with two goals on the night, whilst Captain Sidney Crosby would open the scoring in the first period. Marian Hossa beat his Blackhawks teammate Crawford at his near post to get Europe on the board before a Logan Couture goal but the game beyond doubt.
Two group games remain tomorrow with the already eliminated Czech Republic and USA going head to head, whilst all eyes will turn to Russia vs Finland to see who Canada will be facing in the big game on Saturday.
More coffee, alcohol and sun will again be on the agenda tomorrow so stay tuned for the next edition!