Saturday, May 07, 2005

IIHF World Championships Updates - North America gets thrown a Scandinavian Curve

When North American Hockey fans who support their country's representatives, it's been known, especially in Canada, that nothing but winning gold is acceptable. So please explain to me why Canada and USA have been slumping as of late. The reports from preliminary play find that Canada and USA are operating at sub-par levels against the traditional regionally rivaled countries of Sweden and Finland.

It took a heroic effort and an instant replay review for NY Islanders and Team USA player Mark Parrish to score the 4th and tying goal against Finland to survive into the medal round. What makes it worse, the Americans squandered a 2-0 lead against a solid team Finland and then play catch-up as they saw themselves behind 3-2. In the final minute of regulation play, Mark Parrish re-directed an Andy Roach shot off the skate blade. The review showed that Parrish made no kicking motion and the goal was allowed.

Canada failed to beat Sweden in their game by the score of 5-4. Kenny Jonsson (what's with all the NY Islanders in this report??) scored the game winning goal. Despite the early MVP favorite Rick Nash scoring his 7th goal of the tournament, Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots that came in his direction. Again, just like the Americans, Canada had squandered a 2-0 lead in the first period.

In other news of my interests, traditional regional rivals Czech Republic and Slovakia met in their preliminary round with the Czechs coming away with a 5-1 victory. The Slovaks went with Rostislav Stana in goal hoping to spark some change of fortunes, but was yanked for the streaky Jan Lasak who only seems to do well enough in International play. Lasak's former teammate in Nashville, Tomas Vokoun, stopped 28 shots. Jaromir Jagr played up to expectations after receiving a hand injury in the previous game against Germany.
"We scored our two early goals and that really helped us calmed down our game," said Czech Head Coach Vladimir Ruzicka.
I'm not sure if something was maybe lost in translation, but I thought teams got energized when they were ahead on goals early in the game?

[Via: The Hockey News and The Hockey News and IHWC.net 2005]
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