This wasn’t the medal that team Canada wanted to play for, but this is the game they ended their tournament with. Despite strong play through their preliminary round, the loss to Russia Tuesday night was the most significant game of the tournament. For Finland, losing is never easy, but losing to Canada in Canada only increased the focus on their loss. Not that a 4-0 loss wouldn’t draw enough attention as it was.
Talk about your let downs. With the eye of the nation on Calgary and Team Canada, the team suffered their most ill timed and disappointing loss in years. So much so that after the first period when the team was down by two, tickets for the Sweden vs Russia gold medal game could be found on online classified ads. Now that Canada is officially playing for bronze, the number of tickets available is alarming.
Team Canada hasn’t played since their New Year’s Eve game against the USA, but that certainly doesn’t mean they haven’t been watching the rest of this tournament unfold.
As popular as the IIHF World Juniors are, I have always loved the Spengler Cup. This is a Swiss tournament that is held in what looks like a giant ski lodge, and ABBA can be heard on the sound system during seemingly every single stoppage in play. For those of us who do not, or cannot watch much European hockey, this is often our only chance to see the differences from North American play.
Team Canada beats Team Switzerland 7-1
The fine folks of Red Deer Alberta welcomed Team Canada Thursday night and in return they witnessed 7 great goals and one excellent hockey game.
On Monday night, Team Canada played Team Finland at the Calgary Saddledome in a preliminary IIHF World Juniors tournament game. This was the first chance for most Canadian hockey fans to have a look at the players that will be playing for our country in this holiday tournament. Despite Oilers’ prospect goaltender Tyler Bunz being a final cut from the team, there is still a lot of potential on this roster. I don’t think that it is just my Oilers’ preference that makes me concerned about goaltending this year, but it weighs in more than it should.
The Team Canada World Juniors camp invitations have been announced and only 3 players from last year’s silver medal winning team will be returning. This group of players features no real surprises, but definitely a large number of talented players.
Edmonton Oilers’ prospect goaltender Tyler Bunz is on the list as is Edmonton Oil Kings defencemen Mark Pysyk. Both are Edmonton natives who are hoping to represent their country in their home town.
Aaron Vickers of NHL.com has some comments from Team Canada head of scouting Kevin Prendergast:
I think the skill factor overall (is higher),” Prendergast said. “We have a lot of skilled defensemen. Not near as big as we were last year, but we have good players back there. We’re young up front compared to where we were last year, but you look at these kids, you look at their stats, where they were drafted in the (NHL) draft, they were in NHL camps for a while. They understand what they have to bring when they get here.
Mark Pysyk was drafted in the first round, 23rd overall by the Buffalo Sabres. The Oil Kings’ captain may not be an Oilers’ prospect, but for now he is still a member of the extended Oilers’ family. The emphasis on that statement should be for now. As Bruce McCurdy notes, it will not be a surprise if the young defenceman gets a long look by the Sabres. This summer, Pysyk received his second invitation to a Team Canada U20 development camp this summer and is hoping to have made the most of it. In 2009 Pysyk won gold representing his country at the U18 Ivan Hlinka Tournament, the 2009 and 2010 Subway Super Series, and in December 2010 Pysyk was invited to the World Junior Camp but didn’t make the final cuts to play in the Holiday tournament. This could be the young defenseman’s year.
There are several Oilers prospects that will add up to make for an excellent Oilers team going forward. One of my favourite prospects is Tyler Bunz. Bunz is a favourite for various reasons. For starters, he is from Edmonton and was fortunate enough to be drafted by his favourite team. Bunz also has an excellent work ethic and has persevered to rise to a position at the top of the WHL goalie list. Some will say he was the second, and some the third best goalie but ultimately, he was tops in the league.
This spring, Team Canada named Vancouver Giant’s head coach Don Hay to coach the 2012 Team Canada World Junior team. The last time the championships were in Alberta, Canada took the gold. Coincidently, Don Hay was the team’s head coach. 1995 was also a year that a young Ryan Smyth played for Team Canada. Through the seven games played, Smyth scored 2 goals and 5 assists.
About Oil Patch
Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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