The World Championships are truly something else.
To some hockey fans, the World Championships are a joke. The fact that it’s not best-on-best makes them turn away from the two week event in April. For them, it’s clear: they’re missing out on some of the best, if not THE BEST, hockey of the year.
I watched all 64 of the games this year and covered over 50 of them myself. It was a tough thing to do, but for me, it was totally worth it. The tournament had some incredible action every single day, and when games between France and Latvia get your heart pacing for 65 minutes, you know this tournament is something special. People claim they don’t care about the tournament because some of the best players don’t show up. If you needed any proof as to why this tournament was so great, just look at the 64 games that made up one of the best World Championships in recent memory.
Jaromir Jagr is an ageless wonder. There was some questions on whether one of the greatest hockey players ever to live would participate in this tournament after retiring from international play last year. Fortunately for everyone except his victims along the way, Jagr decided to represent his own country, and did so in magnificent fashion. Whether it be his game-changing speed or late goals to secure to a victory, the 43-year-old had no boundaries. If the loss to the Americans for third place was indeed the end of his international existence, it was a pleasure getting to watch the end of his incredible 153 game career with the national team.
Speaking of the Americans, can I say enough about them? I wrote them off as a team that would be overcome with inexperience when facing some of the stronger nations. What did they do instead? They beat Finland, Russia and the Czechs to secure the bronze medal. For many people who didn’t know they existed, Brock Nelson and Trevor Lewis helped prove to the world that the Americans didn’t need superstar forwards to produce goals. And how about Jack Eichel, the next NHL superstar? His seven points in ten games were good for third on the team, something that’s truly remarkable considering he’s the youngest player in the tournament.
As you always see at this tournament, the goaltending was tremendous. Just take a look at Pekka Rinne, who set the modern day record for shutout action at the Worlds. The funny thing is, despite his outstanding achievement, Connor Hellebuyck was putting on performances with inexperienced defense in front of him that made him worthy of the award himself. You can’t forget about the unreal goaltending from Edgars Malaskis from Latvia, Kevin LaLande from Belarus or Sebastian Dahm from Denmark, all who were relying on their puckstoppers to keep them close in big games.
Could anyone ask for a better final game matchup? Canada vs Russia. Crosby vs Ovechkin. Spezza vs Malkin. Hall vs Panarin. If the tournament was looking for an ideal gold medal game lineup, the IIHF got it. The game was certainly great for the Canadians, crushing the Russians to secure the 6-1 victory, giving them 25 gold medals in the history of the tournament. Canada was something else all tournament long, breaking record after record en route to the ultimate finish. Easily, Canada had one of the greatest teams ever at the World Championships.
Congratulations to Canada. Congratulations to Russia. Congratulations to the Americans. Congratulations to the hosts from the Czech Republic. The tournament set an all-time World Championship attendance record, finishing with 741,690 seats sold after it was all said and done. This was a fantastic tournament, and when the event heads back to Russia next year, expect some more incredible action for another two weeks. Thanks for following along.
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