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Tuesday January 5, 2010 10:34 pm

Team USA wins gold in unbalanced tournament




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Championship, Editorial,

Stefan Della RovereDespite Team USA dethroning the Canadians in the World Junior Hockey Championships with their 6-5 overtime victory, Canada is still the top team on the world junior stage. The 2010 WJHC concluded last night with an exciting conclusion capping a rather disappointing tournament – as least as far as competitive balance goes. 16 out of 31 games in the tournament saw the victorious team win by four goals or more. The two first place teams in round robin play, Canada and Sweden, outscored their opponents by a combined score of 63-12, while the two last place teams, Latvia and Austria, were outscored 16-73. Is this really the best product that the International Ice Hockey Federation can offer?

Teams Canada and USA played two of the most exciting games in the tournament, if not the best. First, a 5-4 Canadian shootout victory in round robin play on New Year’s Eve, then the 6-5 gold medal victory for USA last night. The States, who are the last team to defeat Canada in the gold medal game in 2004, did the impossible by breaking Canada’s gold streak of five. Back-to-back overtime games between the two teams with everything on the line is the epitome of competitive hockey. Just about the rest of the tournament was not.

Some argue that the bad teams can only get better by playing the good teams, but what is Latvia really taking away from a 16-0 shellacking from the Canadians? Switzerland upsetting Russia in the quarter-final is “good for hockey,” but to go on to lose 11-4 to Sweden in the bronze medal game is embarrassing for hockey. This tournament should re-evaluate who is invited to participate. Get the weaker teams out and have the best four or six teams in the world to play the best Under 20 hockey against each other.

Canadian hockey fans have ridiculously high expectations of their kids. Anything less than gold is considered a disappointment, perhaps more so for these guys than at any other level of competition, simply because it is so expected – and the loss last night may go as the greatest letdown of the year for Canada. Offer a silver medal – heck, even a bronze – to Austria or Latvia and they would go crazy. Offer that to Canada or Russia and they’ll say it’s not good enough. Until the competitive balance in this tournament is evened out, it will only play second fiddle to other world championships and continue to be filler television during the holidays.

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