Rest of Canada knows how Leafs fans feel after World Juniors’ choke

Rest of Canada knows how Leafs fans feel after World Juniors’ choke

Team Canada back in 2005, at the beginning of its winning streak (Image: Dave Olson)

Up until the third period of the World Juniors Hockey Championship final last night, Canada’s boys were doing great. Leading 3-0, we were pretty sure they’d beat the Russians. And then, in just over 10 minutes of play, the Russians scored not three but five times and went on to win the match. The Globe and Mail’s Roy MacGregor says the media present were all whispering the word “choke,” but that really ought to be a headline—even if those Russian boys earned their gold. Now all of Canada knows what it’s like to watch a beloved team run up the score early, only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The only ones who weren’t surprised were the Russians. Asked why they were able to come from behind to win their last three games of the tournament, forward Evgeny Kuznetsov smiled and shouted, “Because we are Russians! We are champions!”

Front and centre in the debacle was goaltender Mark Visentin of the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs, as he coughed up five goals in a little more than 13 minutes in the third period. For the second year in a row, the Canadians had to settle for the silver medal.

“There is no worse feeling than this loss,” Visentin said. A few feet away and a few minutes later, Kuznetsov, who had three assists, said “it’s the greatest feeling in the world.”

The Russian boys seem to have enjoyed that “greatest feeling in the world” a bit too much last night (and presumably into the morning), as the latest news is that the Russian players were kicked off their flight home for being very drunk—or “overly exuberant” as the flight crew called it. Way to shatter stereotypes there, lads.

• MacGregor: Get a grip, Canada [Globe and Mail]
• Canada suffers epic collapse in world junior final [Globe and Mail]
Cox: A major meltdown for Team Canada [Toronto Star]