British Columbians have gold envy.
And the old adage that everything has a silver lining just doesn’t seem to cut it after all the second-place showings lately.
Sure, winning silver is better than finishing out of the medals, but there’s just something about obtaining the gold that Canadian hockey fans crave.
The silver medal haul started with the Canada Selects losing 4-3 to HC Davos in overtime of the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland.
Of all things, it was former Vancouver Canuck Lonny Bohonos who scored the game winning goal for the host squad in the extra frame.
Then came the World Junior Hockey Championships in Hradec Kralove and Pardubice, Czech Republic.
Team Canada finished 3-1 in the round-robin portion of the event, by trouncing France 15-0, downing the Swiss 6-1 and beating the Russians 5-2 before losing 4-1 to the Finns.
After a 5-2 quarterfinal win over the Swedes and a 4-0 blanking of the Swiss in the semifinals, hopes were high that the Canadians would return from overseas with gold medals in their hands.
Edmonton’s Brian Sutherby and Osoyoos sniper Chuck Kobasew of the Kelowna Rockets helped Canada build up a 2-0 first period lead, which they increased to a 3-1 advantage in the second on a marker by Kamloops Blazer forward Scottie Upshall.
Three straight goals by the Russians definitely doused Canada’s hopes until Kobasew tipped in a point shot off the stick of Prince George Cougar defenceman Dan Hamhuis of Smithers. Kobasew’s second of the game in the third tied the contest at 4-4.
But Russian blueliner Anton Volchenkov scored on a long point shot shortly thereafter and the Canadians couldn’t notch the equalizer and lost 5-4.
“I was proud of our kids,” Team Canada coach Stan Butler told a national television audience on TSN after the game. “We battled hard right to the end. Our 22 guys emptied the tank and they did everything they could to try to get the gold medal back to Canada.”
Kobasew and Canadian assistant coach Marc Habscheid received a warm reception when they returned to Kelowna after the silver-medal performance.
“The one positive we can take from it is that we stuck together through the good and the bad,” Kobasew said. “It’s just a great group of guys to play with.”
All was not lost for hockey fans in Western Canada as TSN was broadcasting the final of the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge featuring Team Pacific against Team USA live from Stonewall, Man.
The Pacific squad – featuring 11 B.C. boys and 11 Albertans – had cut a swath through their opposition on the way to the tournament final.
Team Pacific beat Finland 7-1, dumped Team Atlantic 10-4, edged Team Ontario 4-3 and then blanked Russia 4-0 to finish the preliminary round with a perfect 4-0 record.
Cam Cunning, a forward on loan from the Powell River Kings, then counted the game winner as Team Pacific dumped Quebec 3-1 in the tournament semifinal.
Cunning then scored in the second period of the final to tie the contest at 1-1 with the Americans (the same two teams met in last year’s U-17 final, which was won by the U.S. squad).
Down 2-1 in the third, Team Pacific battled back on goals by Clarke MacArthur and captain Brent Seabrook to go up by one.
But the Americans tied the contest to send it to overtime, where Robbie Earl scored to give Team USA the gold and the Canadians – well, they had to settle for yet another silver.
“We scored those two quick goals in the third to take the lead and it looked like momentum was going our way … I don’t know what happened then … we just lost it,” said Seabrook, a defenceman with the Lethbridge Hurricanes who hails from South Delta. “I guess mental lapses cost us the game.”
Last Saturday (Jan. 6) I was confident that the BCHL All-Star Selects could beat the host Augustana University Vikings in the final of the Viking Cup in Camrose, Alta. Like many other hockey fans in B.C., I was able to watch the final in the comfort of my own home thanks to Shaw TV.
Up 4-0, the BCHL squad somehow let the game get away only to lose 5-4 to the Vikings (for more, click on the headline ‘Selects blow four-goal lead’ to the right). It was a great game and credit has to go to the resilient Viking squad.
Maybe winning gold just wasn’t meant to be for all these Canadian squads. With all the silver medals, I think it’s going to be Canada’s time to win gold at the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City next month.
And Butler agrees with me.
“I’m confident good things are going to happen for us at the Olympics with both the women’s and the men’s team,” Butler mused during his TSN interview.
Let’s hope so.