Canada Trip · Football · Ice Hockey

World Cup of Hockey; Day 8

These boots were made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do. 

If someone was to tell me that since arriving in Canada we’d be welcomed by seven straight days of bright blue skies and sunshine, Id have bitten their hand off and would still be chewing on it now. In the first few days it was becoming apparent that going on holiday for a specific sporting event is a lot different to travelling round the country. My two previous trips to Canada consisted of moving from place to place every three to four days, soaking up the cultures of different Canadian States, whilst driving round this great country. Being in Toronto every day has been a big change but one im warming to. 

As today marked the last of the round robin games in the World Cup of Hockey (I cry a little inside) it meant the end of three o’clock face-offs and thus meaning we would now have to occupy the day up and to the later time of seven for the night games. Keeping in mind we had to be back for two, my Dad decided that today would be the day he bought the Canada hat he wouldn’t stop talking about. A stroll into the city centre led to an eight mile wonder around Toronto that took us to Exhibition Place. A modern compilation of buildings and offices, that surround the center piece that is BMO Field. The home of the Toronto Football Club. A 30,000 capacity stadium, carpet like pitch and state of the art grounds keeping equipment, this was somewhat an eye-opening moment into the MLS. It was lucky that it was today of all days to parade around in my Derby shirt, globalising the Rams as much as possible. Keeping to our name we bagged ourselves some tickets for next wednesday nights fixture versus Orlando City, which means I will finally be able to experience the thrills and spills of Jozy Altidore live and in the flesh.

It seemed the good weather had sparked the cities squirrels into life, unlike those we see back in England they tend to be black squirrels over this side of the world. Possessing more energy and appear to be much friendlier than just your average grey. This reminds me however, on the second night here whilst walking back to the hotel we managed to spot a Racoon having a pleasant waddle through the bottom of a tree. Just another magical part of the wildlife this country has to offer. 

Some of the things they do differently here a such a breath of fresh air. There are traffic lights specifically for bike lanes, pedestrians get the right of way when cars are looking to pull into driveways etc, no matter what you do please, sorry and thank you are always said. There just seems to be a whole lot more of a togetherness throughout societies in the West. Well the North of the West because we all know what Americans are like…

I suppose this wouldn’t be a blog without mentioning the Hockey? And yes two game reports coming your way. 

Russia vs Finland. North America would be sat somewhere if not in the building with their eyes fixed on this result. A Finnish win would result in the young guns progressing to face Canada in what would be a tantalising fixture on Saturday night. Having struggled so far to get any rub of the green it was about time Finlands luck changed. But it didn’t. A Mikael Granlund one timer struck the post with the game tied at zip in the second period and then it would be Russia who struck first. Goals from Ivan Telegin, Vladimir Tarasenko and Evgeni Malkin proved just too much as, in my opinion a poor performing but result getting Russian side progress through to the semi-finals.

Just a thought on this young North American side now. And for a team that after being put together, faced big scrutiny from pockets of the media and large clusters of Hockey supporters. Many saw the creation of this side as a mockery for other nations who could easily have fielded a side to compete, Slovakia and Switzerland for example. But neither of these sides would have competed the way in which these kids did. Sales of North America merchandise eclipsed numbers projected and actually topped all sales so far. They left the ice after all three games to standing ovations. They offered fans a new style of Hockey, one that would attract more fans and help promote the game which is exactly what Garry Bettman (NHL Commissioner) wanted by forming this side. It was a chance to see the new blood of the NHL compete together against the established players and compete did they ever! Connor McDavid led from the front,  Auston Matthews gave the ACC a taste for what they’ll be seeing much more of this year. Johnny Gaudreau showed just why Calgary are trying so hard to pen him down to a long term contract. Shayne Gostisbehere, my MVP thus far was excuisite throughout on the blue line, as was Colton Parayko and Morgan Rielly. Backstopped by Stanley Cup winner Matt Murray, this young side has shown exactly why they were formed and for me, fingers crossed, they’ll appear once again in this best on best format.

Game two saw the embarrassing USA take on winless Czech Republic who certainly came out with a point to prove. Following the backlash of unselcected American, Phil Kessel’s tweet, after the loss to Team Canada, John Tortorella seemed to think the USA roster would prove something to. To their credit they did just that.

Losing 4-3, in a game that you could say ebbed and flowed both ways, showing that there wasn’t really anything significant between the two sides. As time went on, the ‘Yanks’ turned to cheap shots and angry slashes as they looked to release their frustration. The Czechs kept themselves to themselves and stuck to their jobs, in a much more professional manner. A performance the Czechs should be proud of as they managed to claim the two points in a game that meant very little from a positioning stand point. Now its time for a US post mortem . Shots will be fired (metaphorical, although it is the US so who knows) from all angles as the state of International American Hockey is well and truly looking very dismal.

As I find myself sitting here with a smug smile on my face, I wonder what life would be like if I had watched the games back home in Leeds, so you can imagine how grateful I am for this opportunity. With the trip going so well so far, I hope that this tournament will become a constant date in the diary and if so, will be hoping to come again and again. 

Tomorrow sees a Hockey day off 😦 So with midnight approaching its now time to decided what tomorrow shall consist of. Na night folks x


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