Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Finland -USA, 12 May 2010, Ice Hockey World Championships

 If you missed the Finland - USA game, this might ease your loss...
Finland – USA starting, the loosing team will be heading home and the winner continues.

For some reason I can’t remember what happened when Finland played against USA last time. I guess it was in the Olympics but for some reason the memory has been wiped out…

OK, the game starts. Woops, 0-1 by a state-of-art goal. US player slams the puck from behind the goal and from a defender’s stick (while the defender is on his stomach on the ice blocking the shot) the puck goes in the goal. Skills…

For the rest of the 1st period Finland is in the game with the same efficiency as in the previous games (where they scored 1 goal per game – and for info to the ones not understanding the game, that is NOT a lot). No goals, no win – unless you have the similar luck & goalie game as against Germany.

Good first 20 minutes, mainly since I was enjoying a cake in the next room most of the time.

While the players are in the locker room and my son finds a football cup final Atletico Madrid vs Fulham. The Fulham coach used to be the coach of Finnish national team but for some reason he wasn’t able to do the magic and get Finland to the first BIG games ever. According to my son, Finland makes it to the games only when he will be in the team. Hold your breath, he is already over 10 years old :o)

OK, football will be recorded. He is happy to watch the game even later but I don’t think you can find a person to watch this hockey game afterwards. Unless you are a coach in these games…

Damn ice hockey can be boring if you are not thaaaat interested. The tackles and moments where the puck almost goes into the own goal form a skate of player who is in his 15th (yes, fifteenth) World Championships. 2nd generation player Petteri Nummelin, who’s father Timo Nummelin played in the same games many times. He was famous from his violin playing after scoring a goal.
Petteri’s father Timo actually played also football in the top league in Finland and is the only player who was selected the player of the year both in football and ice hockey in Finland. Beat that…

Finland plays 2 minutes power play, 5 vs 4, and dominates but surprise surprise, no goal. Even the studio team is getting frustrated, we have former NHL goalie Pasi Nurminen (blue shirt # 1) and Tuomo Ruutu  as commentators. Pasi is giving direct comments as usual and Tuomo is the gentleman.

USA gets 3-1 attack but the players can not agree who will take the puck. Few seconds later Mr Korpikoski from Team Finland gets 1-0 against the goalie but he is scared and takes the easy option and shoots from distance. Otherwise the defenders might push him…

Gotta say it is good that I learnt the 10-finger typing at early age since I can watch the game and type. Yep, not that enthusiastic as I said… Still interested.

I like the US style – same as team Canada. You play the game hard and finish off the tackles. Woooo, Antti Pihlström against the goalie but the Olympic Games syndrome is here: US goalie takes control of the puck.

The game is fast with I’d say fair and clean playing. Form team Finland even too clean, we would need to push it and challenge the guys – clean but tough. Good game with good tempo and players are fully in the game, I liiiiiike! However, gotta say Team USA makes it easy for Finns to play to a scoring sector and 3-2 / 2-1 attacks. Perhaps the wide rink is a bit tricky to cover.

Goalie saves until now: Petri Vehanen 12 saves and Mr USA 30 saves, Scott Clemens(?). Goals: Finland 0, USA 1.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Game is tied 1-1 and they play “In the Shadows” by The Rasmus in the arena!!! 

Wow, US dominate the game after the goal. Why won’t they show the cheerleaders – or would you say the stairs dancers – more during the games. Oooo, shame on US player who dared to use the stick after the goalie covered, or at least the ref thought so, the puck. 2 minutes power play for Finns but I don’t have my hopes that high.

Players back to the locker rooms and we swap to the football game and they too head to the locker room. It seems to be UEFA Cup final. Let’s see if I still have the mentality to write further for the rest of the game, now I’ll also take a time out.

I sit down and after 18 seconds it is 2-1 for Finland, finished by Petteri Nummelin – and The Rasmus in on… I admire the tempo the US team is able to create right after the goal, good stuff! Yes, a nice save by Finnish goalie Vehanen – or was it a good header like in football?

Hey, US has got Mr Kennedy on the ice together with Mr Johnson. Familiar names. I can hear from the audience rhythmic “Suomi – Suomi – Suomi”, and for the ignorant ones Suomi = Finland in Finnish.

Close-up pic of Petteri Nummelin, he is not gonna be Mr Finland this year. Not even with his messy blond-from-the-tube, back-to-the-80’s hair. Another blond on the ice is Antti Pihlström who makes a lot of dirty, hard work on the ice without getting his name and picture on the newspaper. Perhaps he is a bit like Dennis Rodman in Chicago Bulls when he helped Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen shine.

Just the role I have had in many teams – someone needs to do the dirty, hard work to make the team work and someone shine. Hmmmm, somehow this also reminds me of many job roles I’ve had in the past years.

Finnish babes in the audience wearing interesting blue & white fashion(?) dresses. Now I can see the Smurfs in the audience, I guess I gotta cut down the wine…!

Boring phase in the game – not least since US is getting the grip and pushing the game towards the Finnish goal. Nooo, good tempo by both teams and good plays at both ends. FYI, Mr Kennedy’s name is apparently Tim, doesn’t sound like president clan but one should not judge by name. Hey, we also have got Mr Ryan Carter on the ice but if I remember right this gentleman is black and hence not likely to be related to former president.

High tempo, good opportunities at both ends, no goals and 3.5 minutes left. No room for mistakes. US fights hard for their pride and to avoid going home.

Well, have a nice holiday Team USA – Sami Kapanen scores 3-1 with an assistant by Petteri Nummelin and The Rasmus is back in the loudspeakers. What a game, good entertainment!

2 min penalty for US so that’s it.

Noooot, goal for US. 17 seconds left and US scores with 4 players vs 5. This should NEVER happen, Finland was playing power play! 9 seconds on the clock and face-off at Finland end. AC/DC on the loudspeakers. Finland wins!

The difference a fame and flop is so thin – if Finland would have lost this game, they would have been out with some level of shame

40 saves for the US goalie, great game and awarded best player of the team – where as from team Finland Petteri Nummelin got the Tissot watch.

National anthem “Maamme”. It’s great to see the players sing and hear the audience roar with the song.
Good luck team Finland, good game team USA – you made this a fantastic battle!
Some more info to complete / correct the story;
Team USA is not yet packing their bags but will play 3 more games against Italia and 2 other teams that will be confirmed in tonight's (already Thursday) games.

Team Canada lost 4-1 to Switzerland, and even if Canada (same as other "strong" NHL countries) couldn't get their best team here this shows that we should take the "small ice hockey countries" like Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Norway seriously!

Who knows, Italy might step up with their game and kick US but in the game they will play - particularly if a stronger team comes to the game with an attitude...

One reason for the strong performance of these teams might be that most players in their teams play in their national league or in Europe, which enables them to participate the national team activities and World Championships that are played every year. USA and Canada has got the most players in NHL, but also countries like Russia, Czech Republic, Sweden and Finland suffer from the NHL season length. Many players are either too tired / unmotivated to joint the team, have injuries or are in the middle of contract negotiations and don't want to risk with potential injuries.

Still, who ever takes the championship will be the best team in the world for the moment!

Let's play hockey!!!

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