I have been going to hockey games at the Agridome/Brandt Centre for years, but I can't recall seeing a goaltending performance like the one I and a nearly sold out rink was treated to yesterday by Anaheim draft pick Igor Bobkov. There aren't enough words to describe how brilliant Bobkov was as he stole one from Finland single-handedly. Bobkov stopping 46 shots --23 in the 3rd period as the Russians beat Finland 2-0 in a game they didn't deserve to win. The Finns outhustled, outskated, outshot, outeverythinged the Russians, but they didn't outscore them.
Some people told me after the game they remember former Pats goalie Josh Harding stopping 50 some shots in a win over Brandon, but I don't remember that. I've seen guys like Grant Fuhr, Mike Vernon, Ken Wregget, Ron Hextall, Trevor Kidd, Cam Ward, etc, etc, etc do their thing in that rink along with Pat goalies like Jamie Reeve and Harding, but I've never seen a performance like what Bobkov gave us.
What made it sad was when the game was over, the player of the game for the Russians was Nikita Filatov. My Access 7 colour man Kelly Remple was doing the game with me on fasthockey.com and he just about exploded(well OK he did explode) when Filatov was named the game star. The crowd booed the decision as well they should. We find out after that the teams select their star of the game meaning the Russian brass in attendance chose Filatov over Bobkov. That might be the biggest head-scratcher I've seen in a long time. Was that just an ordinary stroll through the park for Bobkov, I'm thinking not!
TSN's James Duthie mentioned yesterday there were empty seats at Credit Union Centre for yesterday's Canada game against Switzerland. That is truly sad! I don't care if Switzerland is a team you are going to mop the floor with. There is no reason why CUC shouldn't be sold out for every Canadian game. Then again when you consider the game was at 3 o'clock on a Monday afternoon. I've heard a lot of complaints about this tournament and one of them was the start times and the fact that people in Regina who want to watch Canada are stuck missing part of their game or missing part of the game at the Brandt Centre. I don't know how that could have been alleviated, but with one game going on yesterday, why was faceoff at 3 when it could have been at 7? If CUC isn't sold out for the New Year's Eve game between the US and Canadians, then move the rest of the event down here where people are embracing the hockey at the Brandt Centre. It might have taken some time to realize it, but they are watching some world class hockey thanks to the Russians, Swedes, Finns and yes, even the plucky Austrians.
That sound of a bubble bursting may well be that of the Minnesota Vikings. They lose in overtime 36-30 to the lowly Bears last nite as Jay Cutler finally looked like the Jay Cutler Chicago fans were hoping for when they picked him in that trade with the Broncos. Cutler has been a joke this year, but he wasn't last night throwing for 4 TD's. The Vikings have descended into one of the ordinary teams from one of the elite over the last month. If they don't clinch the number 2 seed, there is no hope of them advancing to the Super Bowl.
Canada picks its Olympic hockey team tomorrow. The debate is in full swing now. I'll give you my picks later and I'm sure they won't match up with what Steve Yzerman tells us.
If you're reading this in Regina, I'll likely see you at the rink. Have a good one!