Vancouver2010 Winter Olympics - Russia vs Slovakia - Men's Hockey

words and photos by Lee Lau unless otherwise noted.

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If you've never seen this level of competition at the international level then you cannot possibly imagine the level at which this is played. Everything is so much more intense. Imagine Gaborik and Demitra, two notorious Slovak floating pussies - backchecking, hitting, blocking shots. Imagine Afinegonov, a defensive liability if there was ever one, skating his heart out on the penalty kill.

Pay these guys multimillion dollars a year and they screw the pooch. Put Mother Russia's jersey or the Slovak colours on them and they become fighting, checking, hustling machines.

I started the day by doing a few cruising laps in Whistler in the bright sunshine. Then watched the downhill portion of the Women's combined.

Competitors on the Women's Combined race - dh portion of the course


The hockey game wasn't till 9pm. However it was at GM/Canada Hockey Place and was back-to-back with the Canada vs Switzerland game which went to overtime then a shootout. My brother scored the tix and took me and my dad. Right after Canada beat the Swiss (whew!) we took off to the game. We were early and I got to watch the Russians warm up. Needless to say Ovechkin was centre-stage. Ever-gracious and professional he was last off the ice in the warmup. To watch him his wristshots harder then most slapshots was astoundingly scary to say the least.

Chai and Dad

Chai and Dad before the warmup starts. In the background is the cop with the best job of the Games- he has to stand between the two players benches and watch for trouble!!

Nabokov, Zinoviev, Semin and Ovechkin

Ovechkin warming up

Assload of talent on the ice; Fedorov, Chara, Demitra, Handzus, Marian Hossa etc

The game was awesome. There are enough highlights and recaps on the web that I won't repeat the obvious - Slovakia beat Russia in the shootout with Demitra scoring the winner



Datsyuk attacks the net while some Aleksandr dude tries to get in the way

Proof that it actually happened! Gaborik back-checking

Handszus nearly pots one

Slovak fans getting into it. Stadium was crammed full of Russians and Slovaks - amazing atmosphere

Slovakia pots the first goal in the shootout

Halak poke-checks Datsyuk

Gaborik and Bryzgalov with the blocker save

Ovechkin wills the puck through Halak

Bryzgalov makes like an ice-dancer to stop Hossa

Malkin misses (but was incredible the whole game)

Ovechkin got used 3x in the shootout (misses this one)

Demitra wins a lifetime of sausage with this shootout goal - toe drag, waits out Bryzgalov then high blocker side

and Slovakia takes Russia down