Trail Times file photo

Last-second reprieve for North American hockey at worlds

Sports ‘n’ Things with Trail Times Columnist Dave Thompson

That was close.

For the sake of 0.4 seconds, the horrible possibility that North America would be eliminated from the World Hockey Championships without getting within sniffing range of a medal was averted.

“The most talented team in the tournament,” USA, according to Ray Ferraro, had just been taken out by Russia, and Canada was losing to Switzerland, so North American broadcasters, in particular Canada’s TSN, must have been hanging their heads in despair.

Things changed, Canada will now be favoured for at least a medal of some sort, and all the businesses depending on the viewership of such can breath a sigh of relief.

For TSN, it is a game changer, so to speak. All other available hockey playoffs are out of the way. Junior is all done and the end of the Stanley Cup round will not resume until after the Worlds are in the books. So, the Worlds are what there is for hockey fans not ready to give up on the season regardless of the weather.

It has been interesting to see how well that back pass, back pass, rush past all your standing still teammates, power play stratagem works when the extra 3,000 square feet of ice the Europeans use is in play. Not likely the NHL will jettison thousands of seats in order to make it work in their game, however, so it will remain a low productivity tactic here.

Next games are Saturday, 6:15 and 9:15 and Sunday, same times. Canada will play in one of those games each day, against somebody, for some medal or other. Not much more information than that quickly available at press time here.

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Meanwhile the best team in the NHL in 2019, the Saint Louis Blues, will be underdogs against the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals, which begin Monday.

Pretty sure that 49-year gap means nobody considers this a rematch effort for the Blues, but expect to see Bobby Orr’s most famous dive replayed countless time over the next two weeks.

As to that, “underdog,” label. I don’t buy it. The 1970 St. Louis squad was overmatched by the most talented Bruins lineup the team has iced since WW2, and only Scotty Bowman’s scheming, and good goaltending, got them as far as the final series.

This Blues team has at least as much talent as this Bruins team, and its goalie wears a halo. St. Louis has a better, deeper, defence, and at least as much offensive skill as Boston.

Blues, finally, in six.

*********

Locally, there is baseball.

Butler Park has games scheduled every day from Sunday through Thursday in the next week. I am gonna try and get out to watch some, and maybe see what help they can use going forward that fits into my inexplicably busy schedule. You should, too.

Little League is also going strong at Bilesky Park on the bench on weekdays. There are some weekend games, too.

Many way worse options than whiling away your time in a green space where kids are enjoying a game to which Trail has a deep and proud historical connection. Concessions available most days, too.

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