Canada Conquers Communism and Corruption
Disclaimer: This is NOT a political blog. Although as a Ukrainian-Canadian, writing this Russian hockey hit piece will NOT lower any tensions with Russia and I may have to enter the witness protection program after publishing.
There is a lot to unpack through Canada's grind in this 12-day tournament. After last years devastating 6th place finish, the Canadians were placed in the "Death" pool this year with the Russians and Americans. This led to Canada opening the tournament against the US -- and we all know how that goes.
CAN 6 - 4 USA
After setting the bar high, adversity really started to hit the Canadians in their second game of the tournament against Russia. Canada was handed it's largest defeat in tournament history 6-0, while losing Alexis Lafreniere in the process to injury and Joey Veleno for a headbutting suspension.
I truly thought this was the end of our country as a nation.
Canada's captain Barret Hayton was so distraught after this historic loss, he forgot to remove his helmet during the Russian anthem. This caused public and on-ice outrage as the Russian hockey players immediately told the ref. Afterwards, the Red Army went out with their usual grace, refusing to shake hands with Captain Canada.
At first, I couldn't even fathom this loss and I am still struggling to a week later. But then it hit me. There is no way this blowout was from natural causes. Not with these kind of headlines littering the sports section every time an international sporting event takes place.
After coming to this realization, I took immediate action. I submitted a formal request to the IIHF to investigate this Russian team. Although I knew it was a long shot, I couldn't just sit back and watch.
But then it dawned on me and I had this overwhelming moment of deja vu. I recognized this nearly-identical scenario before.
Russia was banned from the 2018 winter Olympics -- and we all know how that went.
I may have lost hope with the IIHF and all governing bodies of international sport but I always believe in the hockey gods -- and talent from Scarborough, Ontario (foreshadowing).
Canada coasted their way to the semis where they met the Finns for a grudge match after last year's disappointment. Now I usually don't believe in revenge with lesser enemies. It's a waste of time. But those Scandinavians deserved every bit of that 5-0 loss. However, the Canadians suffered a loss of their own losing captain and tournament point leader Barrett Haydon. Thankfully, Quebec's Lafreniere returned for this one, scoring two goals and solidifying his spot as the number one pick in the upcoming 2020 NHL draft. Can't help but wonder how much better Alexis would be if he was born in Ontario, though.
Now onto day 12.
Mother Russia vs Big Daddy Canada with a gold medal on the line.
Barrett Haydon returned one day after a grade one shoulder separation for this bloodbath, displaying the grit and resilience that only the captain of this country could show.
After starting this tournament as the villain, Haydon ended it as the hero. The captain tied the game in the third and would go on to earn MVP honours.
But there was an unsung hero who stole the hearts of hockey fans everywhere. Scarborough's Akil Thomas didn't tally a single goal leading up to this contest. Spending majority of the tournament on the bench, Thomas saved his fuel for when the Big Red Machine started running out of gas. In the final few minutes of the game, Akil roofed the game-winner falling on a breakaway and we were gifted with the soundbite of the century during his post-game interview.
Scarborough - 1
Soviet Union - 0
Writing this Soviet hockey slam piece has had me looking over my shoulder with every sentence I type. Many bloggers have gone missing for similar columns. Although with Monday being Orthodox Christmas Eve and celebrated by hundreds of millions of Russians worldwide, including myself, I am hoping the Christmas spirit overrides any anger or frustrations towards this game -- but it likely wont.
So Merry Christmas, Mother Russia.