SATURDAY FEB. 28 » EXCITEMENT IN THE AIR AS SEMI-FINAL NEARS
There is plenty that I could write about in this blog, but I am only focusing on one thing - preparation for Game 4 against Germany. There is a lot to consider when preparing for this game. When we played Germany in the round-robin, we had a slow start but finished strong with a 12-1 victory (I scored three). We don’t get a chance to play Germany that often so when we do, we enjoy the experience. They’re a gritty team that comes out hard and wants to overpower you with their physical play. Fortunately, Canada is always ready and welcomes a physical game (as proven by the end of Game 2 against USA). A hard-hitting game is our game. We have some of the fastest and most talented skaters in the world. We have some of the toughest hitting skaters too. Personally, I don’t feel like I’m part of the game until I lay out a big hit.
Germany is going to be looking for some redemption tonight. They will try to come out harder than before. In return, I think Canada will come out hard as well, showing that we deserve to be in the final.
I have been asked a lot if I ever get nervous before games. The answer is simply ‘yes’. I get nervous before every game. Every game I deal with my chest tightening because I don’t know how the game is going to turn out. When the puck drops, the nervous feelings turn into adrenaline and excitement. I’m excited to skate hard and excited to get a chance to put another one in the “W” column of the score sheet.
At breakfast the team looks at articles about the Hockey Canada Cup from the local newspapers. It’s really great to see the attention that sledge hockey is getting from Vancouver and that everyone is getting excited for the Paralympic Games next year. We want to thank all of the fans who are coming out – it’s a huge honour to pull the Team Canada jersey over your head and play for your country, and it’s even better playing in front of a crowd of people cheering for Canada to win. I hope you can come out and cheer us on against Germany for tonight’s game.
TUESDAY FEB. 24 » HOW WE PREPARE
It’s game day. Game 2 of the three-game round robin is Canada versus the United States. I can’t tell you how pumped I am for this game. In Japan, we had one win and one loss against the U.S. Last night, the U.S. lost to Japan 3-1. Tonight’s game will showcase two powers trying to prove their worth. Tonight the U.S. is playing to regain their respect and confidence. We’re trying to carry our momentum from Game 1 into Game 2 and hopefully to the remainder of the tournament. In Japan, we beat the U.S. for the gold medal and tonight is going to set pace for the rest of the tournament.
Tonight Team Canada takes the ice with something to prove. With some bruised ribs and some shaved heads we’re ready for whatever comes our way. We compete as a team, win as a team and lose as a team. Our opponents don’t dictate how we play. Last night’s game is over and before tonight’s game, each player is doing what he has to do to get ready for the game coming up. Whether it’s having a power nap (a favourite among many on the team), watching an action movie or going for coffee, tonight every Canadian player is going to step on the ice ready for whatever comes their way. For me, I like to lie down on my bed with my iPod at my side full of songs I’ve never heard before. It takes me away from the world and allows me to focus on the game ahead. I imagine myself making the right plays to put the puck in the net and serving up big hits. I imagine myself working hard and doing whatever it will take to win because I know when it comes down to it I can trust every one of my team mates to do the same.
Tonight’s game is going to be a hard fought battle on both sides. Both teams are talented and fast. We all know heart wins champion ships. Let’s go prove our grit...
GRAEME MURRAY - 29
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WEDNESDAY FEB. 25 » WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN
It’s game day at UBC Thunderbird Arena. Team Canada stands (and sits) poised and anxious to open what is expected to be an incredible four-team tournament. Like warriors preparing for battle Team Canada used its morning pre-game skate to work out the last minute kinks in its game. Preparation is more than making sure your sticks are taped and your skates are sharp. Preparation is making sure you are familiar with the nuances of the ice surface; the bounce off the boards, the distance from the blue line to the net and the amount of room behind the net are all things each player has to know when an international game is on the line.
VANOC is attempting something new with this tournament. To my knowledge, it’s the first time there is ice on the benches to make it easier for each player to skate on and off the ice. In the past, there has always been plastic on the ground in the bench. This has never been a problem but I think it’s great that VANOC is trying something new.
This opening game against Germany has to set the pace for the tournament. This game has to make the other teams question their confidence. Other teams have to know that when Canada steps onto the ice, Canada takes no prisoners and has no regrets. Canada is here to win. That is what this team is all about. What is it going to take for this team to win the tournament? Focus and hard work.
Canada has some very talented skaters but the reason the team wins games is because each member of the team gives each game 100 per cent. Each member of this team has worked hard to be given the chance to represent their country. Each player knows what it means to wear the maple leaf crest on their chest; they think about it every day. Each player carries that dedication and commitment into every game.
I’m speaking for everybody when I say I’m excited for this tournament, as should you. There is nothing like experiencing a tournament at home. Come be a part of it.
GRAEME MURRAY - 29
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Adam Crockatt Manager, National Men's Teams | Responsable, équipe nationale masculine (hockey sur luge)