One of the things that I look forward to at this time of year has nothing to do with Christmas at all. It’s all about hockey. On the whole, I love hockey, but there is something extra special and absolutely magical about the WJHC that starts every year on Boxing Day. At my house, this tournament is tradition, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
When I say love this tournament, I mean it. Last year when it was held in Russia, I got up at 3:00 am so that I could watch the games live. Yesterday, getting up at 5:00 am to watch Canada take on Germany was easy in comparison. Somehow, I feel like holding my breath while the game is live is going to make a difference even though logically I know it won’t have an impact at all. Watching same day tape is just not the same! I get worried and bite my nails when Canada isn’t doing well and manage to yell instructions that no one is listening to even though I know that won’t make a difference either. I guess that is part of what makes me a passionate fan.
There’s an astonishing amount of raw talent to see every year. It is where I got my first look at Sidney Crosby on the international stage and that goes for a lot of other superstars. A lot of phenomenal Canadian players have taken to the ice in the WJHC, including Wayne Gretzky, Eric Lindros and Steve Stamkos as well as up-and-coming players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. I could go on and on. I think it is exciting to see players at this level before they get to the NHL.
The feeling of national pride is amazing. It is really remarkable to see an arena in Sweden filled with Canadian fans who make the trip to support Canada, wearing their red and white Canada gear. The energy is out of this world. I can hardly wait to see what Canada can do this year. The team has a lot of talent including Connor McDavid who is being heralded as the top pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Anthony Mantha had a really strong game against Germany, putting up a hat trick.
After Canada’s run of 5 gold medals in a row between 2005 and 2009 where Canada dominated, Canada has hit a rough patch. I think Canadian fans got spoilt, so the last 4 years have been something of a disappointment. We’ll have to see what happens this year under Brent Sutter’s leadership. Sutter lead team Canada to back-to-back gold medals in 2005 and 2006. While Canada hopes to end the 4-year drought at the top of the podium, it won’t be easy. That being said, I’ll never stop watching and hoping for the best. This might be a really young team, but they took the first step in the right direction with their win over Germany.
GO CANADA GO!