Sunday, November 10, 2013


I arrive at the rink just when the puck is to go down for the start of the United States consolation match with Sweden this afternoon. There are many more fans in the stands for this game than for either of the matches yesterday.  Still, one side is reserved for media and scouts, but the other side which probably did not have as many as 200 people total last night, must have close to 500 and this only for a consolation game.  Lake Placid is a short drive from the Canadian border, so I imagine many more will be coming later to see the finals between Canada and the human shot blocker, Noora Raty of Finland.

To my right when I arrive at my perch are two other media sorts, or so I think when I sit and remove my laptop.  I asked if they minded if I took a vacant spot at the table-- inquiring only to be polite as there is plenty of room--not thinking that there might be an opposition.  In fact, they said they would move down. I stated the obvious--moving down was unnecessary as I had enough space as it was--but the man of the twosome said that they would move because they would be talking. So they did. And they were.  These were not media folk, but scouts or coaches from the Swedish team who were sitting across from the bench to get another perspective. Later when the Swedes scored, the woman of the tandem, jumped up and applauded.

The United States had beaten this same team 10-0 on Tuesday night. Today, eight and a half minutes into the first period the score is tied at zero.  I wonder how difficult it will be for the United States to get up for this game since this is simply a consolation. The Swedes on the other hand probably are motivated since (a) they are seeking their first win in the tournament and (b) they got shellacked by the Americans a few days ago.

TEAM USA scores first at the nine minute mark after a scrum by the net. The players leap for joy and it does not seem artificial.  With 339 to go the US scores again, and again it is after a scrum. just a bunch of sticks whacking at it.  Then the Swedes score in the last minute sending my neighbor out of her seat. The period ends 2-1 U.S.

Might be interesting to contemplate how regular folks celebrate when we score, when we achieve.  Do we jump up and hug our colleagues at work when we have completed a project that required cooperation and skill.  Doubt if we would do this every time we are so successful.  And, unlike hockey players, our celebrations would be more muted.  Imagine if at work, I write a particularly on target e-mail with the help of colleagues--and then to celebrate we all bounced out of our offices and hugged in a vestibule.  Not likely.


The Swedes had a golden opportunity to tie the game in the first minute of the second period, but couldn't put the puck in the net. When the US had a power play it was successful and scored with 445 gone in the second period.  The Swedes have another opportunity on a power play but this time cannot even get a single shot on the goaltender. The fellow adjacent to me who is a scout or coach for Sweden became animated when a skater could not do what he thought wise. Whatever he said in his native tongue was far removed from "Way to go."

The play becomes very chippy in this second period. At one point the Swedes have three players in the penalty box. The US scores two more power play goals and a third almost immediately after a skater for Sweden returned to the ice. After two periods the score is 6-1 USA. The third period begins like the second. The US is pummeling the Swedes and the poor goaltender for Sweden must feel like she walked into an ambush. Meanwhile our goalie can take a nap. Nothing is happening on that end.

Kendall Coyne, the Northeastern student, makes a beautiful pass to set up a short handed goal. She dug out a puck made a terrific pass and the teammate banged it home 7-1 with 929 to go.  She is really quite a player, moves like she has a magnet toward the puck, and appears to have her head in the game throughout.

Before the buzzer sounds, another goal skids past the Swedish netminder making the final 8-1.  The teams shake hands, but it seems obligatory. Not much love out there for a team that has beaten you 10-0 and 8-1 over the course of five days.

Afterwards, a couple of Team USA players are interviewed. They all say the right things and the words seem genuine. They are connected to their teammates, would have loved to play in the championship game, but they played hard in the game they had.  The coach came out and, as was the case the previous night, very professionally and eloquently responded to questions.  The team played hard, she was--rightly--proud of the players.  It would have been better to play in the championship game, but the goaltender the night before had, as was obvious to all, a game for the ages.

My favorite part of the post game media session occurred when a group of youngsters, ten year olds it seemed-- who are in town for a tournament of their own rushed the media room hoping to get autographs from the women Olympic athletes. A young kid asked for, and received, a photo standing next to the coach.


I decided to stay and watch at least the beginning of the championship match between Canada and Finland. I had to see again the woman who seemed superhuman for the Fins the prior night. So, I did, and within two minutes she let through the kind of shot she had stuffed repeatedly the night before.

And then she gave up another, and then another.

She was nothing like she had been against the Yanks. Before the period ended she had given up four goals, and while Canada looked tough, she had been under much greater pressure when the United States blasted her repeatedly on Friday night. In twenty minutes she gave up four times as many goals as she had the night before in 60.

She would give up two more goals in the remaining period and Canada went on to win the Four Nations tournament 6-3.  It will be interesting to see what happens in Russia this February at the Olympics.

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