The decisive moment of this game came at 00:00 of the first period. That’s when Jordain Tootoo lined up for the opening faceoff, and seemingly from that moment on, the flow and emotion of the game was in his hands.
His perfectly timed punishing hits seemed to wake up the crowd early, and more importantly, irritate the Czechs. At 16:34 of the first, Tootoo’s crushing open ice hit brought a retaliation penalty from Czech defender Lukas Krajicek, leading to Canada’s opening tally by Scottie Upshall on the ensuing powerplay.
In the second period Tootoo, clearly a crowd favourite, added to his highlight reel with a picture perfect finish to a centering pass from Jay McClement.
Tootoo continued to be an irritant throughout the game, drawing an elbowing penalty in the which led to a team Canada powerplay goal only seconds later.
Team Canada head coach Mark Habsheid says that tootoo adds a dimension that’s infectious. “It affects the opponent, it affects our team and it affects the crowd” adding, “He’s an intelligent guy… knows that he has to be physical but not go over the line.”
Tootoo summarizes his own style noting he plays above his size, and saying that opposing teams who underestimate him soon discover “I’m fast and furious”.
He is also very aware of the support he garners from the home crowd, a thundering ovation nearly everytime he steps on the ice. “It’s just an unbelievable feeling to have your nation behind you… it’s an unbelievable feeling”
And judging from Saturday evening’s game, Jordin Tootoo’s thunder is only going to get louder.