Sunday, August 29, 2004

Canada-Slovakia at the CC 

Tonight, I was in attendance for the second of two warm up games at the Corel Centre, as Team Canada played to a 2-2 draw with the Slovakians.

Space was abundant, from the parking lots on in, due to a surprisingly small crowd. Even the between-period lines at Tim Horton's were pretty small. While Wednesday's face-off against the U.S. rightfully sold out, only 12,812 were there to see the skillful Slovakian side this evening. Frankly, that surprised me as I was more excited to see the Slovakian players than I was the U.S. That's not anything against the U.S., who are outstanding, but a lineup that includes hometown favourites Chara and Hossa, along with Demitra, Bondra, Gaborik (who didn't play), Zednik (who also didn't play), Handzus (injured), Palffy (also injured), and Satan, to name a few should attract an equally solid crowd. So ok, the marquee value was a bit smaller in the end. Shouldn't have hurt advance ticket sales.

It was my first time attending a major (albeit exhibition) international game. Growing up in PEI, I had attended a couple of National team games when they stopped in on tour, but this was my first time with the all-star version rather than the mostly journeyman version. Despite the small crowd, the atmosphere was akin to a playoff game in its electricity.

Lyndon Slewidge kicked off the game with not only his powerhouse rendition of O Canada, but with, at least to my non-Slovak speaking ears, a fine rendering of the Slovakian anthem. An "A" for effort at least.

Canada was all over Slovakia in the early-going, but couldn't capitalize. After killing 3:58 of a 4-minute penalty to Shane Doan, Canada got a bad break as a Slovakian bowled over Martin Brodeur, leaving a wide open cage for Vladimir Orszagh. Shortly thereafter Marian Hossa pounced on the puck, broke in all alone, and snapped it through Brodeur's five hole faster than you can say "sister-in-law".

Fortunately, despite some obvious rust and team growing pains, Canada got goals from Vincent LeCavalier in the second, and Jarome Iginla in the third to force OT. They continued to take the play to the Slovakians in OT, but couldn't beat Rastislav Stana.

Falling Sens...

A pair of Sens are now gone from the World Cup. Peter Bondra (who as an unrestricted free agent isn't technically a Sen, but I've always thought the Sens would resign him for the right price) broke his wrist tonight.

Meanwhile, Martin Prusek has withdrawn from the World Cup with a hip injury. No real word on the injury's severity, but how's that groin feeling Dom? Then again, Prusek may have until January to recover.