Team Canada Failed to Show Up at the 2013 World Juniors

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by Kolby Solinsky

Editor, White Cover Magazine

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The hammer has finally fallen. Team Canada is no longer Team Canada, which was evident on Wednesday night/Thursday morning when the Canucks were slapped around handily by a more prepared and just all-around better Team USA, 5-1 in Ufa, Russia.

This may be presumptive, but the Russians and their fans were probably hoping to see a ’72 Summit Series rerun for the thousandth time in the Gold Medal final. Instead, they’ll have to watch USA and Sweden (who beat the Soviets (sorry) in a shootout, 3-2) pretend to have a rivalry.

The hockey will be better. Faster, cleaner, and more aggressive. It’s the way it should be.

“Obviously its disappointing,” said Canada’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to TSN. “It’s not the result we came here for.”

Disappointing, yes, but it should hardly be surprising. Canadians know they have better players — as a whole — than any other nation, but they’re too often content to rest on that.

As good as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was over five games, he didn’t have enough jam to knock out a single performance worthy of a stretched-out TSN highlight package. His three assits against the Russians were great and all, but they were far from what the USA’s John Gaudreau did against Canada yesterday, or what American goalie John Gibson has done every game all tournament.

Jonathan Huberdeau was invisible. Ty Rattie looked dangerous at times, but impotent most of them. Ryan Strome was there, but that’s about all that could be said.

Head coach Steve Spott looked bewildered. Somebody should have given him a juice box.

The Canadians are good, but they didn’t show up on Thursday morning and, really, they haven’t yet shown up in this tournament. Now all they have left to play for is Bronze. It’s a medal so weak, they skipped that Age in Social Studies class.

Through the first four games — even though they were unbeaten — they Canadians were lazy and unconvincing. They beat the Americans in their first meeting, sure, but they wasted several powerplay opportunities and had to hang on until the final whistle.

They easily beat a rather weak Russian squad, but the Russians looked even less interested in that game than the Canadians did.

Maybe this is the problem with Canada’s recent World Juniors record, which sees them now go four years without the only medal that matters: they’re too comfortable. They don’t know how to win. The Nuge and Scheifele sure wanted to win, they’ll tell you, but they never really played like.

Neither player showed us much against a team that didn’t start with G-E-R or S-L-O-V.

They Canadians were slow. They missed the net with every chance they got. And, when push came to shove, they didn’t protect their goalies from a bevy of dangerous American snipers.

Team Canada didn’t deserve to win this year, so it’s good they won’t.

Best of luck to the Yankees and the Swedes.