The Russia Chronicles, Day 11
August 27, 2019
North American Hockey League Director of Communications, Marketing, and Sales, Alex Kyrias, will be chronicling every day of Team NAHL’s trip to Russia, including stops in Moscow and Sochi for the 2019 Sirius Junior Club World Cup.
The Russia Chronicles, Day 11: The calm before the storm
Tuesday was structured as a day to not exert a lot of energy. Every single player and coach knows what lies ahead. Wednesday is going to be a day with a roller coaster of emotions and effort.
On Tuesday, we found out who advanced on the other side of the bracket in Pool A. The hosts and defending champion Lokomotiv steamrolled their way to 1st place with a perfect 3-0 record, while the AJHL from Canada ended up in 2nd place with a 2-1 record and now both teams await the two winners from Pool B.
Unfortunately for Team NAHL, it is a bit of wait and see situation before the puck drops in our game at 7pm local time (Noon eastern, 11am central) vs. HC Ocelari Trinec from the Czech Republic. You can watch the game here: https://www.youtube.com/user/NAHLTV
Red Bull and Karpat play four hours ahead of us. Our most realistic shot is to have Karpat win. If they do, it simply means that we have to win our game, case closed. If Red Bull were to pull an upset, then it gets into a rather bleak goal differential situation, which we would rather not discuss because it would involve Team NAHL having to win by eight goals or something ridiculous.
Practice was light and upbeat. The guys only took an hour of the allotted hour and a half ice time. Other than that it was rest, rest, and more rest. Team NAHL has a few bumps and bruises, the biggest of which is Johnstown Tomahawks defenseman Chris Trouba, who will likely be out the remainder of the tournament with an upper body injury. It is a shame because he was playing well and was our biggest player. Chris loves to play physical and that is something that drives our success. So, it will be up to others to step up. Now down to 22 players, Team NAHL will be able to dress every player for the remainder of the event.
Some of us took time out to visit the Black Sea on Tuesday, which is a close 10-minute walk from our hotel. It is said that Sochi is the pearl of the Black Sea coast. Sochi, or the ‘Russian Riviera’ as its known, is the most popular beach resort in Russia. Over 2.5 million people visit annually and it also is the summer residence for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Black Sea itself is rare because it is filled with anoxic water, meaning there is a significant lack of oxygen found in the water. The lower layers of the Black Sea are totally free of oxygen and therefore, totally inactive. Why is it called the Black Sea? According to one source, storms during the winter make the water in the Black sea appear black, leading the sailors to call it as Black Sea. Another theory suggested that the objects that drown in the water get black sludge covering after a period of time.
Regardless, I dipped and ‘baptized’ myself in the Black Sea on Tuesday hoping it would bring us some luck and hoping it would cure this dang cold I have had going on for a few days… Must have been all that airplane travel.
Spirits are high and Wednesday is our biggest day yet. The perpetual thought of what lies ahead is enough to give anyone goose bumps. If things worked out in Team NAHL’s favor and they advanced to the Semi-Finals, it would set up the most epic and David and Goliath match-up since the 1980 winter Olympics… USA vs. Russia, Friday night, prime time in Sochi, sold out arena, a team that’s been together 11 days vs. perhaps the strongest junior hockey team in the world and defending champions, the Cold War, Rocky IV, Reagan, Gorbachev, Trump, Putin… sorry… I got carried away. Anyway, yes… if we did advance we would face Lokomotiv from Russia in the Semi-Finals. It’s sobering and exciting thought, but let’s just go win our game on Wednesday.