TORONTO - Team North America and her breathing style games are gone after three thrilling games at the World Cup of Hockey, their 2-1-0 record on the missing semifinal berth by a whisker.
It seems so unfair that, first and foremost among those North American children, who surpassed all expectations defeated Sweden and Finland and losing just one goal to Russia - a loss that has returned to haunt. And it is equally unfair to fans of this sport who are transported back to the Edmonton Oilers in 1980 in the style of hockey this week.
"Yeah, no matter what happens this afternoon, I think we can be proud of ourselves," said North America star Connor McDavid Thursday before Russia's 3-0 victory over Finland sealed the fate of North America Team. "We can hold your head high and know that we've done almost everything we could do. ... It's so much fun. We really do not want it to be over."
Neither does anyone else.
But the memory of the children we have left.
"It's great. It's good for hockey. It's good for the future of hockey," said Team Canada veteran defender Shea Weber Thursday at the North American team. "You see all the young talent going through now. It's the future of our sport. They are a very competitive team. ... I had some success, and it was fun to watch."
But they will be back? Early indications are that the 23-and-down concept is one-and-done experiment for various reasons, one of them is that they do not think USA Hockey would reconfirm, not unless it can first choose which child wants to first team .
Even McDavid said they prefer to play for Team Canada next time around, even though up to 24 years if the next World Cup in 2020 and would be entitled to a North American team in the current context.
We'll see where it goes. NHL and the NHL Players Association could see the influence of the kids' team had on fans and decide to bring back version. But the reality is also that it was a unique squad in terms of generational talent. Auston Matthews Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, Nathan MacKinnon - you will not get that class of players every four years.
But what a tournament it was for Team North America: Chemistry 2015 No. 1 pick McDavid and 2016 No. 1 pick Matthews created on a line together; Gaudreau is a fascinating hands; opening two minutes to play Sweden; and the capper was ridiculous Mackinnon OT goal is to beat the Swedes.
It's an absolute disgrace, young people are gone. The semifinal matchup with Team Canada on Saturday night would be incredible theater.
Good. We think it is only now, what would it be like.
Other top stories of the preliminary round:
• There was so much emphasis within Team USA on building your list Canada beat a team that we should have almost predicted a 3-0 stinker in the opener against Europe. Both teams in this tournament are too good to concentrate all their energy on one opponent. This is actually a mistake, I think it was made in the compilation and preparation of this team. Americans were not ready for Team Europe, and it became a premature end.
• It is very disappointing to see Finland go 0-3-0 and score just one goal in the tournament. In back-to-back Olympic bronze medalists deserve a better fate against Sweden (2-0 loss), but otherwise the losses in North America and Russia is relatively common. I would not read too much of it, however. Finns develop outstanding talent at junior levels and will be a force to reckon with again.
• If awarded the Jack Adams Award for best coach robin, winner of the Team Europe Ralph Krueger. The way the players came together from eight countries in such a short time to play a cohesive, structured game is nothing less than remarkable.
• Sweden has not yet been hit by the high speed, such as Sunday's semifinals (1 ET, ESPN) date with Europe waits. When viewed from the get-go as the biggest threat to Team Canada, the Swedes were good at times but still put together three great periods. I think you'll see that on Sunday.
• high marks to Russia for shedding some demons finally reached the semifinals at best-on-best, after quarterfinal exits at Sochi (2014) and Vancouver (2010) Olympics. After the Russians opened the tournament with a 2-1 loss to Sweden, Alex Ovechkin's team really had its back to the wall against North America. The loss in this game would eliminate Russia, with an added layer of humiliation thrown out children. Even though this game could go either way, I was impressed by the passion and resilience Russia turned to find a way to win. It could be something you can draw the Russians, who are trying to disrupt Canada on Saturday night (7 ET, ESPN2).
• And yes, Team Canada. Ho-hum, right? Canada All he does is win and win and win. The Canadians went a perfect 6-0-0 in Sochi and passed robin at 3-0-0, crushing Team USA along the way. The upper line of Sidney Crosby was out of this world. The fourth line centered Ryan O'Reilly was the difference in the win over USA, and Jonathan Toews' line leads Canada around Europe. As said Canadian coach Mike Babcock Thursday, there is no doubt Ryan Getzlaf line is next. Canada can be beaten? Of course. But it will take a heroic performance goaltending and opportunistic scoring, how to do it.