Thursday, February 20, 2014

Russia Day Three. Quarter-finals

Wednesday was exhausting. I got up at 9:30, after a good sleep of six hours (not quite enough), feeling very tired and with sore feet and legs after a lot of walking. I've got a couple small blisters on my left heel, and put some moleskin on to protect them, as well as thin liner socks, which seemed to help. My first event was at noon, so I really only had time for breakfast and a shower before heading to the bus stop again.

I saw 3 of the 4 men's quarter-final hockey games on Wednesday. The first was Sweden vs Slovenia, starting at noon at the Bolshoi Ice Dome. This was the biggest mismatch of the day, and the Swedes didn't have much trouble putting Slovenia away 5-0. Some say Sweden is the favourite in this tournament. They looked good, but did not scare me as a potential gold-medal opponent.

Game 2 was Russia va Finland at 4:30pm. Russian fans were coming to Canada Olymnpic House trying to trade tickets for the Canada/Latvia game Wednesday night for a ticket to this game. Unfortunately for them, all the Canadians seemed to already have that ticket. The crowd was again loud and excited, and started off very happy as Russia scored the first goal. It was downhill from there, however, as Finland soon tied it up, then went ahead, and the Russians were unable to dominate. One Russia said to me today, "Russia has the best players, but not the best team". There certainly was a lot of great talent on the ice for the Russians (occasionally with Datsyuk, Kovalchuk, Malkin and Ovechkin all on the ice at once), but in the end it did not come together, and Tuuka Rask was again very good in net. Finland won 3-1, and the Russians were heartbroken.

Game 3 at 9pm was Canada vs Latvia. We expected an easy game, but we didn't get one, as the young Latvian goalie stood on his head, keeping the game tied at 1-1 until well into the third period. The Russian crowd was solidly behind the Latvian underdogs. I felt that the Canadians played an excellent game, despite having so much trouble getting the puck past the Latvian goalie. They controleld the play almost the entire game, moved the puck well, and did not get frustrated or take stupid penalties, even after the ref disallowed what seemed like a clear goal (and after two video reviews!).

Another long walk to the bus stop, and back to my hotel before 1am, getting to sleep only around 3am after reading for a while to unwind.

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