Morrissey’s Musings: Josh Morrissey checks in from the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship in Russia
Monday, April 15:
Game days just have a different feeling, especially when you’re playing a rival like the U.S. Most mornings a few days after a long flight, with a 10-hour time change, and as a teenager, it might be hard to wake up, but considering most of us hadn’t played a game in three weeks, been practicing hard for almost 10 days and the game was against the Americans, we couldn’t wait to get up.
Pre-game skate had a quiet intensity to it, and you could sense each guy was chomping at the bit a little to get into a game again. We skated hard for about 40 minutes before getting off and packing our bags as we were heading to the ice dome across the street. Our group, Group B, is playing out of the Shayba Arena, the smaller of the two, and Group A is playing out of the Bolshoy Ice Dome. Both arenas are brand new for next year’s Winter Olympics, and, as expected, the facilities are phenomenal. Now, when I said we packed our bags, that’s honestly about all the work we do, as our training staff and equipment manager do all the heavy lifting and unpacking, staying up late into the night and getting up early in the morning. The thankless jobs that make us players have the best opportunity to play our best, Chris Hamilton, Joey Garland and Michael Morin do, so to those guys, a big thank you!
After a quick lunch at the hotel we had a few hours to nap and relax before pre-game meal, which for me consisted of pasta and chicken, which after a few years in the WHL I’ve gotten to know quite well. The unique thing about the U18 tournaments is all teams stay in the same hotel, and eat at similar times, which during the exhibition games is fine, but after a couple of hard fought games and battles toward the conclusion of the preliminary round, it can be quite tense in the meal room. Next was an hour to get ready before heading to the game.
Arriving at the massive new Bolshoy Ice Dome was eye opening. It was our first time to see the new arena and it was huge. We got into our dressing room and, like always, our stuff was perfectly set up and ready to go. Guys got to taping there sticks and fixing there skates, stretching and seeing the trainers if need be before our team meeting to go over some strategy. After our meeting we began our dynamic warm up lead by Joey Garland, which we do as a team before we step on the ice. Even though this was our first game together, guys were already developing their little routines and such in preparation for the game.
The on-ice warm up was our first as a team, and it probably showed as we were all trying to figure out the routine. It started out with some guys bumping into one another and some confusion in a few drills, but eventually we all got it figured out. Next was the game.
It started out pretty fast and intense; guys were anxious to get going and it was quite physical early on, but since it was our first game together, the chemistry wasn’t quite there against an American team which plays together year round. There were some big hits, some nice plays and spurts where we executed different things very well, but unfortunately it wasn’t consistent enough and we ended up losing 4-1. It was a good test for our team and it showed us areas we needed to work on, but it also gave us some positive things to build on, as we did have some success and showed some great things. As Coach Hay said after the game, “tomorrow come ready to work and get better.” I’m confident if we continue to do that, we’ll turn those spurts into 60 minutes of hockey where we want to be. It’s a process.