World juniors: No more Buffalo, please

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Perhaps we have been spoiled through the years with venues filled to the brim during this time of the year when the World Juniors take place as one of the best hockey tournaments, if not the best.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t take away the fact that the attendance numbers in Buffalo overall have been totally disastrous for the game, for the city of Buffalo, and for the IIHF as arrangers.

Attendance has been so low that it almost took away all attention from the games.

And, the outdoor game: I am not sure what to say about that except that the cameras seemed to be handled by junior high school students and not at all designed for the rink that was built in the centre of the New Era Field, which is obviously a Football stadium.

Of course, it didn’t help much either that the American and Canadian players had to fight through a blizzard before they could settle on a winner in that game.

I am sure that I was not the only one, except those 40 000 who had, after all, attended the game in person, who turned off the stream after two periods because the lousy camera angles and the snowstorm took away all the joy and excitement of the match.

Furthermore, this is not a tournament that anyone will talk about that much afterwards, except about the outdoor game perhaps, as it will only be a page in the history of hockey books just for academic interest.

The only real upset was the Slovakian win over the home nation in the round robins, but that was it.

Not particularly exciting except for Canada and Sweden who were apparently the best teams of all among squads whose performances were very bleak.

Russia and Finland were two very big disappointments as they acted like just two alibi teams, even if Finland were defeated in the shootout stage against the Czechs.

The US team with Bellows and Yamamoto turned out to be statistics against Sweden when the Swedes with Rasmus Dahlin and Elias Pettersson as the front spears put on the big show from the second period and forward.

Switzerland, Denmark, Belarus, and Slovakia despite the shocking win over the USA, well, they probably did what they could do but not near enough to shake anyone on the ice — on the contrary, they were light years away.

The Swiss coach was refreshing with his honesty before the game against Canada, as he told it as it was, no more, no less. Something we can’t get enough of, pure honesty.

Well, the face of this tournament was somehow saved by the final game between Sweden and Canada, and what a show from both teams!

It was hard to predict all the way as it could have gone either way and somehow, it was actually one of the best finals I’ve seen myself in years.

Canada had the lucky inches on their side when Steenbergen sniped in that crucial 1-2 goal very close to the end of the game. The 3rd Canadian goal came when the Swedish net was empty but that was only academic.

That’s that and to conclude this text and the World juniors for this time, I have only one thing to say:

No more Buffalo, please.

It’ll work, if God, wind, leads, ice, snow, and all the hells of this damned frozen land are willing.

Matthew Henson, an American explorer 1866 – 1955

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