by Lisa McRitchie on 01/03/12 at 04:45 PM ET
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.
Tuesday morning, Team Canada Head coach Don Hay addressed the media to discuss Canada’s upcoming game against the Russians and goaltending. Don Hay did not participate in Team Canada’s practice yesterday because he had the flu and didn’t want to risk infecting his team. After all, they have a big game ahead of themselves.
Team Canada knew that they were playing Tuesday night, but their opponent remained a mystery until the conclusion of Monday evening’s game between the Czech Republic and the Russians.
In an exciting goaltender battle, it was the Russians who eventually won in overtime. For many hockey fans this was the most exciting outcome possible; Canada beat the Czech Republic 5-0 last week and Canada lost the gold medal game to the Russians last year.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity for tonight. I think that it is something that we’ve been building for and looking forward to. We’re playing against a really good team and we have to play our best to have success against them.”
Their best will certainly be needed, especially when according to the Russian head coach Valeri Bragin who spoke through his team’s translator Tuesday night “We know everything about Canada and they know everything about us.”
For Hay, these sentiments are nothing new “The Russian Canadian rivalry has been going for a long, long time.” Hay recalls, “I remember as a kid watching it in 72; I was able to see that and see it live, I was able to get out of high school and go watch it. It was pretty exciting. I remember jumping around and hugging and cheering for the goal that Henderson scored. That said it’s always been there and it’s a huge rivalry and it’s continued on. When you have that kind of intensity and rivalry there, it makes for a great game.”
Even though the hockey rivalry has existed for decades, it is the recent memories that mean the most to many Canadian hockey fans. They want redemption.
“This isn’t about redemption” insists Hay, “It’s about winning the hockey game.”
This Team Canada roster aside from three players is completely different from last year’s team, and this is also an all new Russian team. This game is more about the flag on the front of the jersey and not the name on the back, just like all other games at this tournament.
“With them playing their second game in two nights, it’s important that we wear them down at the start and continue that on for sixty minutes.”
This is where we see if the extra day of rest has done Canada some good. The Russians are fast, take advantage of poor passes in the neutral zone, but can be beaten if Canada can bring a physical game. This doesn’t mean hitting every player, but if Canada can get in the shooting lanes, block shots and make their own chances this game could go in the host country’s favour.
In goal for Canada, it will be Scott Wedgewood who has been Canada’s best goaltender so far.
For this tournament, Russian goaltender Andrei Vasilevski is sitting at number one, while Scott Wedgewood is at number two although their stats are remarkably similar. Vasilevski has a SV% of 95.95 and a GAA of 1.23. Wedgewood has a SV% of 95.55 and a GAA of 1.00.
Canada will take on Russia Tuesday night at 7pm MST on TSN. If you do not have access to this game on television, you can catch every minute of this highly anticipated game online with Fast Hockey.
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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.
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