The 2012 World Junior Championship will do down as one for the ages.
I sat back at one point during Canada’s bronze medal winning effort feeling a little empty. The first time in 10 tournament’s that I have been lucky enough to attend or cover in whole or in part where our boys didn’t play in the title game.
Despite that, this one will go down for me as one of the best. Why? The games were just so good. So many of them so many terrific moments and great individual efforts.
Petr Mrazek‘s brilliance between the Czech pipes. His performance that knocked the Americans out of the playoff round was fist pumpingly fantastic.
Yevgeni Kuznetsov’s nine points against Latvia, and then the three-goal one-assist performance in the semifinal triumph over Canada.
Sweden’s Max Friberg. nine goals (well really eight but they count a shootout win in IIHF play).
Mark Stone, the Brandon Wheat King, showed the country why he has only been shut out three times this year in WHL play. All the guy does is score and did so in the first four games of the event and made a great pass on the fourth goal in the zronze medal game.
The determination of Brendan Gallagher. I love the way he plays the game, and when was the Vancouver Giant at this best? No question, three points in the third during one of the most incredible periods of hockey I have ever witnessed with my own two eyes.
The third period in the semi versus the Russians.
How about the title game?
The Swedes, bridesmaids so many times, finally got it done for the first time since 1981. They needed 58 shots to finally beat Andrei Makarov and got a golden goal from Mika Zibanejad.
The Russians were flat out kicked all over the lot for 40 minutes, outshot 39-4 before finally waking up in the third. Nikita Gusev had the tournament on his stick with under a minute to go before Johan Gustafsson stole it away.
The games were outstanding the drama tremendous. I always feel let down when Canada doesn’t win, but this event was just to good not to appreciate.
What I am most sad about is it’s over.