In what is shaping up to be one of the most epic World Juniors in recent history we have the Russia vs. Canada final. There is no bigger rivalry in international hockey than Canada Russia so Canada better not blow this one.
When the two teams met earlier in the tournament Canada took a shellacking. That wasn’t all either, the Canadian captain Barrett Hayton didn’t take his helmet off during the Russian National Anthem.
That action sparked huge controversy in the media and out a dark cloud around the team. Even Canadians for whatever reason were calling on the captaincy to be removed from the young player.
Hockey Canada and Barrett Hayton both apologized for the minor indiscretion and Team Canada moved on. The next opponent took major poundings all the way up to the semifinals where Canada demoed the Finns, who beat the Americans, by a score of 5-0.
Russia is different though and the rivalry runs deep. Even at the World Junior levels where they have even had bench brawls. The Russia Canada matchup cannot he taken lightly.
The game is set to be played at 1 p.m. eastern time. If Canada wants to win this game then they will have to play a fast and physical game. This years Russians are uncharacteristically tough and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
However the outcome of this game goes the young Canadians have finally been able to crack the World Junior curse which has plagued them over the past few years. Team Canada only has 2 gold medals over the past 10 years which would have seemed to be unheard of at the start of the millennium.
This team needs to play harder, smarter and tougher if they want the gold medal. With the entire country behind them they certainly don’t have any excuses now.