Nigel Kirwan Diary: 4th Installment
Saturday was a game day. We had about five or six guys come over to the rink for an optional morning skate. Then we went back to the hotel for lunch and a pre-game meeting. The boys took to the ice for a 4:15 p.m. game against Latvia.
After a sluggish start we found ourselves down 1-0 and 2-1 with the Lightning’s Martins Karsums scoring Latvia’s second goal. Slowly momentum turned as the ice tilted in our favor with the team playing predominantly in the Latvian end. Goals by Drew Stafford and Jack Johnson’s second of the game gave us a 3-2 lead going into the third. Patrick O’Sullivan’s lone third period goal sealed a 4-2 USA victory. Karsums was given a Tissot watch for being Latvia’s MVP, Johnson got the same honor for the U.S.
A couple friends of mine from Tampa, in Italy for a poker tournament, swung by to catch the game. We met up for a couple drinks afterwards. They’re heading to Monte Carlo next week for another tournament. Must be nice!
Sunday started with a typical early morning practice with the guys having the remainder of the day to themselves. I spent the majority of the day preparing video for the upcoming Sweden game on Wednesday. The differences between U.S. and European video frequencies and hardware are making things more difficult than I am accustomed to.
We had another optional morning skate on Monday followed by a pre-game meeting at the hotel. A routine meeting turned interesting when the projector suddenly shut down. While attempting to diagnose the problem, the cause quickly became apparent when smoke began bellowing out of what was a blown transformer. And the hits just keep on coming. Taking advantage of an amused team, Head Coach Ron Wilson jokingly made it clear that he now understood why John Tortorella was no longer coaching the Lightning. Needless to say, the jokes have been rolling in consistently since. The meeting continued with coaches diagramming on a large pad of paper on an easel.
We again started the 4:15 p.m. game against Austria very sluggish. Dustin Brown continues to score, putting us up 1-0 after the first. Austria traded goals with us in the second period and four more U.S. goals were added by Patrick O’Sullivan, Jason Blake, Lee Stempniak and Matt Niskanen as the team began to hit its stride in the third for a 6-1 final.
Latvia’s upset of Sweden in a shootout following our game has put us in a good position in our pool. Sweden will respond and be ready for us on Wednesday. We must be ready to face a talented and determined team.
The weather here has turned cold and wet and is supposed to remain that way for the rest of the week. While the team had a late morning practice I continued to battle with several electronic components but didn’t manage to burn anything down today. Something Ron Wilson and Brian Burke are now routinely pointing out.
Eurofact: Switzerland is nowhere close to becoming a tobacco free state!
Previous Steven Stamkos Diaries from Switzerland:
Previous Diaries from Video Coach Nigel Kirwan in Switzerland: