Nigel Kirwan Diary: 5th Installment
Wednesday evening the team took the ice against a formidable Swedish National Team. Patrick O’Sullivan’s lone first period goal gave us the lead after one. Sweden answered on the power-play five minutes into the second and again a minute and a half later for a 2-1 lead. Undaunted, we picked up our play in the second period, scoring two goals on the power-play to take back the lead, 3-2. The team was able to maintain its surge into the third period with Ryan Shannon scoring his second of the night and Jack Johnson continued his torrid pace to give us what seemed to be a fairly comfortable 5-2 lead. Sweden swung momentum back its way, scoring 25 seconds later.
A Swedish goal with less than nine minutes remaining put us on our heels for the night, tying the game at five with three minutes left to force overtime. We were unable to swing momentum back in our favor and the Swedes won the game, 6-5, two minutes into the extra frame. Team USA still ended up winning the pool on seven points to Sweden’s six, placing us first and allowing a day off before our next game versus France as opposed to playing Russia on Thursday. The points here are different than the NHL with teams receiving three points for a win, two points for a shootout or overtime win and one point for a shootout or overtime loss.
Thursday Head Coach Ron Wilson gave the players and staff the day off. Most people took advantage by taking excursions out of Berne and into the mountains or Interlachen Region. Reports were all positive as the guys all trickled back in. I met with the assistant coaches in the morning to go through a pre-scout video meeting on the team from France. Later we went back to the rink to pre-scout Team Russia in their game against Sweden. The game saw the lead change several times and ended with Russia winning, 6-5, in overtime. Swedish goaltender, and former Lightning net-minder, Johan Holmqvist left the game with a knee injury.
After the game I met with some of the staff for dinner. I actually enjoy the roulette game you play when ordering a meal here, as most menus are written in German. You’re never 100 percent sure that you are getting exactly what you thought. That being said, the food here has been excellent and I’ve enjoyed every meal so far.
EUROFACT: Apparently its pretty rude and insulting here to not look someone directly in the eye while touching classes during a toast, ooooops!
Friday was our first game of the cross-over round. What does that mean? Here in Berne there are two pools of four teams each and there are two more pools of four teams in Zurich. In the first round you play three games against your pool. For us that meant Latvia, Austria and Sweden. The top three teams from one pool then move forward playing cross-over game against the top three teams from the other pool which where France, Russia and Switzerland. The fourth place teams (Austria and Germany) are eliminated into a relegation tournament with the two fourth place teams from Zurich. So we ended up playing France. After this round the top two teams in each pool in Berne move to the playoffs with the top four games from Zurich. The playoffs are a one and done format!
With France unable to keep up with us in their own zone, they succumbed to multiple penalties as the U.S. scored two power-play goals in the first period by Kyle Okposo and David Backes. Shannon and Keith Ballard built a 4-0 U.S. lead early in the second. France scored twice but Patrick O’Sullivan added a fifth. In the third period Johnson scored his fourth of the tournament for a 6-2 final.
Previous Steven Stamkos Diaries from Switzerland:
Previous Diaries from Video Coach Nigel Kirwan in Switzerland: