The HSBC Arena in Buffalo, NY was a buzzing with jubilant Canadian fans as Team Canada went into the third period with a 3-0 lead. Then the wheels came off.
Russia stormed back to tie it in less than five minutes and they weren't done.
Artemi Panarin and Maxim Kitsyn scored just 13 seconds apart to get within one goal. Just over four minutes later, Vladimir Tarasenko got a quick shot off to get the tying goal past Mark Visentin. The Canadian friendly crowd was stunned.
The Russians completed the comeback with less than five minutes to play and placed a dagger squarely in the heart of the maple leaf. Panarin shot his second of the game past Visentin and Russia was in the lead for the first time in the game. Nikita Dvurechenski thrust in the aforementioned dagger with just 1:16 to play.
When the Russian captain Vladimir Tarasenko received the trophy, he skated past the Canadian squad who could do nothing but stand there and watch in what some have seen as a classless act.
One would say that he is a kid full of exuberance and I would think that initially, but his actions spoke louder than words.
As he held the trophy, looked at his team and made a quick dart toward the Canadians with the IIHF executives quickly reacting trying to verbally stop him, but it was too late.
He skated with the trophy high above his head celebrating in that overly exuberant manner that the Russians seem to normally do (if anybody watched Alexander Ovechkin celebrate in his rookie year for each goal you'd know what I'm talking about), and went right past Team Canada who were all lined up at the blue line because they were waiting to lineup for the handshake.
The Russians did not give up and they deserved the win. I have no question about that. The third period was hard to watch...real hard. But in the end, the better team won because the better team played right to the last buzzer.
While the celebration that ensued was normal overall, the march past Team Canada was uncalled for. In my eyes, it partially took away the respect I had for that Russian team as they indeed battled in this tournament and came back from deficits to steal wins from their opponents.
All I can say is congratulations, Team Russia on a job well done. Enjoy it while you can because you can only bring back one player next year.
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