Dec26

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Journal Entry: December 26th, 2001

We caught a good break. We get a day off after a 15-0 win.

I know that doesn't sound right. Who needs a day off after a lopsided win? Fact is, you can pick up bad habits in a football-score victory. You can get away from the things that you'll need to do to beat the best teams at this tournament.

Now I will say that I liked how our team came through against France more than last year's team handled a big lead going into the third-period against the Swiss. We gave up a bunch of goals in the third period of that game and played without discipline. Against France we brought the same game to each period.

I'll give the French credit--they knew they were in trouble even coming into this tournament after winning the B pool last year after losing a bunch of players from one season to the next. Their coach told me that last year at least they would have been competitive. This year it's another story. Still they never got chippy. They never did anything cheap out of frustration. They just played as best they could for as long as they could. It doesn't get any easier for them mind you. They play us one day and the Russians the next.

People will ask why we ran up the score the way we did. Well, I wish we didn't have to but that's the way the tournament is set up. A tiebreak at the end of the qualifying round could come down to goal differential. It shouldn't be that way. It would be better if it were goal differential against other teams advancing to the next round. But I don't write the rules. I just coach accordingly. I wouldn't bet against the Russians scoring even more against the French.

The one thing that did come out of the opening day was a chance to see two other teams in our group. The Swiss beat the Finns 3-0 which has to rate as an upset. The Finns went undefeated through the Four Nations under-20 tournament a while back. The Swiss have a bunch of players back from last year's team. Last year's Swiss team tied the Russians in the opening round in Moscow and had a lead going into the third period against the Finns who ended up with the silver medal. That Swiss victory yesterday tells me that our pool is going to be deep and tough.

Our game against France wasn't memorable, even if Mike Cammalleri opens the tournament with another hat trick (that's what he did in the first game last year in Moscow against Belarus). I'm sure the French don't want to remember. I hope our players can put the game behind them. I know we only have one day between a walkover and a real test, but this is a really short tournament and one day here is a long time.

 

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