Canada wins gold, again!
It is never a boring sight to see young Canadian players waltzing around at centre ice, hugging each other and anyone else who gets in their way after winning the World Junior Championship. Last Friday night, the scene occurred for the 17th time. It still warmed the hearts of many Canadians.
It was the fourth time that the Canadians had beaten the Swedes in a final. It was an important game for the Swedes as well. After the game, the Swedish team was presented with their silver medals. One player, Lias Andersson, was so miffed at losing that he tossed his medal into the crowd. To me, it was a symbolic gesture. After the game, he solidified the point. He had won silver medals previously. They did not mean a lot to him.
As is the case with all of the teams at the tournament, players do not come hoping to win silver medals. Last year, the Americans beat the Canadians in a shootout. That was not the greatest feeling in the world for the young Canucks. Perhaps many of those players thought about tossing their medals. Andersson’s medal was returned to him after the presentations. Someday he may hoist the Stanley Cup with the Rangers. That would be special.
Tyler Steenbergen deflected a shot by Conor Timmins with less than two minutes remaining in the third period to lift the Canadians to victory. It was a special goal for him, as he had limited ice time during the tournament. It was his first goal in the tourney, and, up to that time, he was the only forward on the Canadian team who had not scored.
Dillon Dube had opened the scoring for the Canadians in the first period. Up to that point, the Swedes had never trailed in the tournament. They tied the game on a short-handed goal by Tim Soderlund. The Canadians knew beforehand that the Swedes were dangerous when killing penalties. They had scored twice on one penalty kill against the Americans in the semifinal. A notable feat.
The Canadian players, well coached by Dominique Ducharme, return to their Junior teams from the Canadian Hockey League, others to their university teams. Cale Makar left an impression with a lot of us after his play in the Royal Bank tournament last year in Cobourg. He was certainly one of the best players there. He was selected as one of the best defencemen at the World Juniors. He is rather short for a rear guard, but has the great skating skills to compensate. He will now continue his studies at the University of Massachusetts.
It was very noticeable that speed is a very important component in today’s game. Ducharme was also impressed with the skills that the Canadian kids demonstrated at the tryouts. The Canadians also had seven players returning from last year’s silver medal team. Many of the others, like Makar, had also participated in countless championships in their young hockey careers.
John Druce coached the Cobourg Cougars to the Royal Bank Cup Championship last year. He is now behind the bench of the Wellington Dukes. Up to this point in the season, the Dukes have been enjoying an excellent year; however, team brass decided it was time for a change. An overtime win on Friday night may have been a step in the right direction.
Now, if he could convince Makar to come to Wellington after his freshman year at U. Mass.