Wednesday, January 03, 2007

World Juniors to a shootout

I tuned in today, via the USA Hockey audio feed, to the US v. Canada at the World Junior Championships. What a game. Back and forth, excellent goaltending, both teams playing as hard as they could play and after 60 minutes they were tied at 1 each having converted a power play.

So, on to overtime, which is played 4 on 4 for 10 minutes. Here, the US seemed to take it to Canada a bit, outshooting our northern friends 12-2 in the extra frame, helped in part by a power play when Jack Johnson took a high stick to the face. But, Price stood on his head and kept the score tied.

And then it happened...they went to a shootout.

Now, regular season NHL games and even the round-robin games at the WJC, the shootout is exciting, no doubt. I've witnessed them in person at Nationwide, and don't think anybody sits. They are without a doubt fun for the fans.

But, today, a trip to the gold medal game was on the line, and these two teams who had played a phenomenal game, got to skate one on one with the opposing goalie to settle the tie. I just can't agree with that, it's the medal rounds, after all. An individual display to settle a team game for a medal on the international stage? Who came up with that grand idea?

So, in the shootout, the two teams continued their exciting play, and Carey Price stopped one more shot than Jeff Frazee, so Canada moves on to play Russia for the gold medal. I seriously hope THAT game doesn't go to a shutout, it would just be wrong. (If it does, and the Russians pull it out in a shootout, that noise you'll hear coming from the north will be a clamoring for this to be the one and only year the shootout is used in the medal rounds.)

So, I'm a bit let down that the US didn't win, and have a somewhat empty feeling in the manner in which it happened, but I'm happy with the way the boys played. It was their best game of the tournament, by far. They finally played up to their rather lofty resumes, and gave Canada all they wanted.

But in the end, one on one, Peter Meuller couldn't get that last shot past Price. So, the US plays for bronze on Friday vs. Sweden.

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