Canadian World Junior Hockey team head coach, Brent Sutter, stated that defenseman Matthew Dumba and forward Charles Hudon would play in Saturday’s semi-final hockey game against Finland. The two had both been held out of practice on Thursday, and it was in question whether or not they would be playing.
The announcement came as a relief for fans of the Canadian squad. Knowing that the two players would be available for Saturday’s semi-final game. Dumba is an offensive catalyst for the team, having already tallied three times in a previous round robin match-up against another opponent. His loss would have been strongly felt by the team had he not been able to participate.
Canadian fans did not know what to expect from this year’s World Junior hockey squad, and this appearance in a semi-final match has come as a source of pride and excitement. On this year’s team, only center Jonathon Druin was a known bright star. Jonathon has already played some games for the N.H.L’s Tampa Bay Lightning squad and was known in Canada for his stellar junior career with the Halifax Mooseheads.
Many Canadians looked forward to seeing some of their rising hockey start. They were excited about the fact that highly touted sixteen year old, Connor Mcdavid, was included in this year’s junior squad. Connor is expected to be a number one draft pick in the 2016 N.H.L draft. Expectations have been tempered by the lack of well-known players other than those two NHL favorites. Fans were not sure how this team would perform. The fact that they have advanced this far has been met with an outpouring of enthusiastic support.
Brent Sutter and his staff of coaches have worked hard to prepare the juniors to advance to the point they have reached. Supporters have begun now to expect great things from them. Brent has coached the juniors in two previous stints with great success, each time winning the gold medal. Sutter seems to have found a home coaching the world juniors, and he has raised national and international interest in himself by his efforts. On Saturday, however, he will be looking to have his players on the ice receive all of the attention.
Fans will be very interested to watch the rest of the world juniors and how the results turn out. Canadians are hopeful for a win Saturday against Finland that will send them into the gold medal final against either Russia or the United States, depending on how their games go. Fans wait eagerly for a possible final pitting either of their traditional rivals against Canada. Either Russia or the United States would be a difficult game for the team, but optimism is growing that they will be able to rise to the challenge. No matter how the chips fall, Canadians love to watch competitive hockey at the highest levels for the sake of the game itself. All eyes will be watching, just the same, to see if the Canadian World Junior Hockey team can beat expectations once more ant take that semi-final match to extend their run at the tournament final.
Commentary By Vincent Costello