It’s really hard at times for reality to meet or even exceed expectations, when those expectations have had time to simmer, boil and then rise and rise and rise. We have all been there before anxiously awaiting a movie, TV series finale or Championship game only to be disappointed at the end. The disappointment isn’t because the product was poor, but because we unfairly, expected so much more. But then there are those rare instances that occur in our lifetime when that exceedingly high expectation is not only met, but surprisingly and ecstatically surpassed. Case in point…. I remember sitting in a dark theatre with a friend of mine, deathly afraid I was over-hyped for Guardians of the Galaxy. I was so impressed with the movie that the following day I took my sons to go see it. Two days later I took an out of town friend to go see it. It far exceeded my high expectations and I revelled in it over and over again. So, what does this have to do with sports today? Hello Team North America and hello to the newest Maple Leaf, Auston Matthews.
I had wanted to do something special for my sons for quite some time because they are really good kids and I haven’t been able to afford to. So with the WCOH in Toronto I thought, wow this might be pretty cool. My first thought was to see Team Canada but those ticket prices were beyond crazy. As I thought about it more, I realized they weren’t the right team for us to see anyway. The more I thought about it, the right team to take my sons (14 and 12) to see, was Team North America. Sure, they are a gimmick team, made up of the best Canadian and American Players under the age of 24. There was McDavid, Eichal, MacKinnon, Gaudreau and Toronto Maple Leafs’ very own, Morgan Reilly. Oh yeah, there was one late addition to the team as well. The 13th forward chosen was this year’s (and the Leafs’) number 1 pick, Auston Matthews. What an opportunity I thought. I can take my sons to see the stars that they will grow up with. For over a month now I have been waiting. Waiting for this tournament to start, waiting to see if the hockey is good and hoping that the kids will make a statement. Hoping to catch a glimpse of what makes Matthews so special. The expectations have been set high and as the pretournament games began, the North Americans put on a show, scoring 11 goals in 2 games. You know, the kids are alright. OK, huge understatement there but keep calm I kept telling myself, these games don’t count for anything. We still really don’t know what we have here.
Actually, scratch that, they did mean something. That 13th forward that was added to the team, you know, Auston Matthews. He has impressed so much at camp that he has moved up and up in the ranks and now to start the tournament he is on the first line with McDavid and Scheifele. Again, you don’t want to get too excited about a player before he has even played his first NHL hockey game, but gee willikers, how can you not get excited about what this young man is going to bring to Toronto? He has poise, maturity, skill, speed and most impressive of all is that he plays a 200 foot game. When you can get hockey analyst Elliotte Friedman to stop mid-sentence while you are just skating during warmup, you begin to understand that the Toronto Maple Leafs have something special. The first time I saw Auston do this, I think I peed a little in excitement. I am not even embarrassed to admit that was true.
Auston Matthews with a sick move in warm ups 😳😱https://t.co/bgTdx6UOWX
— Goalie Ways (@GoalieWays) September 20, 2016
So far, North America has beat Finland 4-1 and lost to Russia 4-3. The loss was tough as they out played the Russians except for a 6 minute span in the second period when they gave up all 4 goals. Unfortunately, goaltender Matt Murray had just injured his thumb and tried to play through it. For this young team to make it to the Semi-final round they will need to beat a very good Swedish team. Do they have a chance? Of course they do. Regardless of the outcome, this team has already far exceeded my expectations and so has the newest Leaf. If they can pull off the victory on Wednesday with my sons and I in attendance… well then, I can then relive and revel in this memory, over and over and over.
Notes so Far:
I wanted a CAN vs USA final, but what a dud this US team has been. I don’t hate the Americans (ok, maybe a little), but I hate coach Tortorella A WHOLE LOT so I am fine with that outcome.
Funny how everyone was afraid that Team Europe would get blown out and yet they won both of their games.
Sweden doesn’t have the fire power it once did, but they have arguably the best defence and will challenge Canada should they meet in the knockout stage.
Russia may be 1-1, but as previous tournaments, they seem to be disjointed. How can a coach that has Alexander Ovechkin on his team, give 5 other players more ice time? Ridiculous.
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