A little under a year ago, Canada was glowing from a golden win on the Olympic stage, defeating Team USA in Overtime, with our golden boy Sidney Crosby scoring the OT winner. If there's one thing Canadians love, it's celebrating a big win on the International stage. That one was epic.
We were poised to do the same again, last night, with our Canadian boys in the final game of the World Juniors against legendary adversary, Russia. I'm not sure anyone else in the world cares about the Junior tourney quite as much as Canadians. But around here, it's a highlight on the sporting calendar. Games kick off on Boxing Day, it's a holiday tradition for many.
In the semi-final round, Canada faced off against the US, on their home rink in Buffalo, and made headlines for not only dominating on the ice in a 4-1 score, but also for the red & white that filled the stands. Canadian hockey fans made the trek across the border to cheer on their boys, and it turned out that they outnumbered the American fans in their own country.
It was the stuff legends are made of.
All they had to do was beat Russia in the gold medal game to cap it off. And with a 3-0 lead heading into the third period, it appeared that gold was almost a guarantee.
Oh, no. Not so. Not by a long shot.
I'll admit to being a little uncomfortable heading into the third, with a solid but not insurmountable lead. They say 3-0 is the worst lead in hockey. The Canadians made that a vast understatement last night. The Russians came out in the third and were relentless, eventually netting 5 unanswered goals, and taking the game with a 5-3 final score. The gold was in our hands, and they snatched it away.
Not so cocky now, huh?
You can talk about collapses all you want. They're not that uncommon in hockey. (And they're definitely familiar to us Sens fans...)
But last night? I think you could call that one epic.
A little less than a year after our epic Olympic victory, we're venting and complaining about the epic - EPIC - collapse.
Some people are saying to cut them some slack. They still won silver. And they're kids, for crying out loud.
A bunch of kids who, in a few years' time, will be NHL'ers. Some of them may be stars.
But I can promise that none of them will forget last night. And hopefully a valuable lesson was learned.
It ain't over til it's over. Don't count your chickens before they hatch. What's that about a fat lady singing?
So maybe I didn't escape without a few clichés after all.