Watching the latest installment of the World Junior Hockey Championship, which took place in Ottawa this past month, reminded me of what great hockey should be. Fast paced, great goals, big clean hits and plenty of intensity and drama all played out by kids that have yet to be tarnished and softened by big contracts and the luxuries of Pro hockey.
Being a Canadian I’m somewhat biased but I think anybody that appreciates good hockey was impressed with the determination of the boys in red and white. I’m too young to remember Henderson’s historical goal in ’72 but I won’t soon forget watching young Jordan Eberle score with 5 seconds to go against the Russians. I couldn’t shout as I had a wife and young son asleep upstairs but boy did I jump and do some some serious fist-pumping. Canada then went on to face the Swedes but after the thrill of the previous 2 games it was almost a let down. Canada went on to win its 5th consecutive championship.
This championship in my mind is giving the Stanley Cup playoffs a run for the money when it comes to great hockey. There is something pure and natural watching the game being played by boys instead of rich men. Sure, they are all looking out for sweet contracts, high draft spots and their own futures but they still exude an energy reserved for the young. It is special to see teenage kids put their heart and soul on the line, to see both the victors and the rest wearing their emotions on their sleeves for all to see. There were no head shots, no fights, no swearing at the fans, no whining about ice time or linemates. It was just great hockey played at a level that gave no hint of their age.
If you can, keep your schedule open next year to watch some of this tournament or better yet book your tickets now to see a few games in person (details will be on this site in the months to come). You will fall in love with this Tourney, I have.