If there is an official religion in Canada, it’s Hockey! Nothing else comes close to bringing this country to a stop, especially when Team Canada plays for Gold. Last night, Canada’s Junior Team played the Russians for the Gold Medal at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Toronto. I was only able to catch the Third Period, but what a finish! As I was watching the final minutes tick away, it took me back to those days in the ’70’s and ’80’s, before the Iron Curtain fell, and the Russians were a complete mystery to us. I remember the Canada Cup series’ between 1976-1991 (my family had not emigrated to Canada in 1972 – the year of the famous Summit Series). For the most part, European teams were a complete mystery to us in North America – especially the Soviets and Czechs. Today, those players are no longer a mystery. Most of them live and play here in North America. The magic of those years is gone. Still, when Team Canada plays for Gold, the country stops. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Olympics or World Juniors.
Most of the young men playing in this tournament will never make it to the NHL. For many of them, this tournament, and winning Gold will be the pinnacle of their hockey careers. It took a tremendous amount of dedication, practice, combined with skill to get there. Those are things that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives as they move on. That kind of dedication can only bring success in whatever they move on to in life – be it hockey, or some other career. Congratulations, Team Canada!