What should have been a wonderful year for Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship turned out to be nothing but disappointment wrapped in dashed hopes and shattered dreams.
With the lockout looming over the country, stifling the hockey addictions of Canadians everywhere, the anticipation for Canada to bring home another gold medal was high. After all, in the previous two lockouts in the 1994-1995 and 2004-2005 seasons, Canada made it to the finals and trumped their competition to score the gold.
With the lockout in effect, fantastic Canadian players, who would have otherwise been monopolised by NHL teams, were ready and willing to represent team Canada this year.
One such player was Captain Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who had been playing for the Edmonton Oilers. Another player who opted to represent Canada at the World Juniors, skates a little closer to home. Jonathan Huberdeau, a player for the Saint John Sea Dogs who’s drafted to the Florida Panthers, was a forward for the 2013 Canadian team.
The Championship started out hopeful for Team Canada, as they faced off against Germany in their first game of the tournament. They won with a spectacular score of 9-3.
Canada then took on Slovakia and won 6-3. In their third game of the tournament, Canada played their North American rivals, the United States. It was a close and tense game, but Canada came out on top, winning 2-1.
Next on the docket was Russia, a team with which Canada has had a long-standing rivalry. In a clean sweep, Russia was defeated with a score of 4-1.
After four consecutive wins, the Canadians were once again face-to-face with the United States. In a devastating game, where Team USA was looking to make up for their previous loss, Canada was defeated 5-1.
This single defeat meant that Canada was forced to compete with Russia once again, for the bronze medal. Russia was also looking to rectify their loss and fought hard into overtime, resulting in a 6-5 loss for Canada. This one sent the Canadian team packing without the title, effectively ending Canada’s 14 year streak of returning home with a medal.
Considering the availability of NHL players due to the lockout, it’s disappointing and frustrating that Canada couldn’t muster the extra effort to even take third place. Previous lockout years have featured players such as Sidney Crosby, Jeff Carter and Corey Perry, all of whom brought a medal home to Canada.
Despite the contempt for team Canada for and letting the country down and the gold slip through their fingers, it has to be taken into consideration that NHL players from other countries were free to return to their place of birth and represent their home team.