Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Last week, I posted a story about the number of games played over Christmas at Maple Leaf Gardens in December of 1966. One of those involved an international matchup between the Czechs and Junior Stars.

While the Toronto Maple Leafs no longer skate at the Gardens, the tradition of their home rink hosting international competitions continues in 2014.

On Boxing Day, I had the pleasure of attending the opening game of the 2015 World Junior Championship at the Air Canada Centre. The preliminary round contest saw Team Russia face Team Denmark. On paper, Russia appeared to be a heavy favourite, but as we all know, it-aint-over-until-the-fat-lady-sings.

Right from the start, Russia dominated the play, however, they weren't able to finish on offence. Late in the middle frame, Denmark held a 2-0 lead, but Russia fought back to force overtime. When 5-minutes of extra time failed to produce a winner, the game went to a shootout. In the penalty shot format, Denmark failed to score and Russia took advantage of their opportunities to win the game. Sergei Tolchinski and Nikolai Goldobin scored for Russia in the shootout.

Despite not being able to fend off their opponent, Team Denmark, gave their all and this helped to make a close and entertaining game. Much of the credit for this goes to their goalie, George Sorensen.     Back in Denmark, he defends the net for his hometown team, the Herning Blue Fox.

In Canada, the World Junior Championship has become the prime hockey tradition over the holiday season. The fact it is happening on our home soil enhances the overall interest. A crowd of 12,412 gathered at the ACC for the Russia-Denmark encounter.  It is a treat to see these games in-person, as opposed to being restricted to viewing them only on television. The junior aged players, now performing for their homeland, rev-up their game and this results in some pretty good hockey.

As we begin a new calendar year, lets hope there is plenty more exciting hockey in store for us in 2015!


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