January 4, 2012
Visentin forced to watch this time
By WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Goalie Mark Visentin lived a nightmare last year in Buffalo.
His experience in Tuesday's 6-5 semifinal loss at the Saddledome -- watching from the bench as Scott Wedgewood surrendered four goals in 31 minutes before being called in from the bullpen -- might've been worse.
Visentin was shelled for five third-period markers in last year's gold-medal game, when the Russians erased a three-goal deficit with a stirring comeback.
He only allowed two in the final frame of Tuesday's loss, with one of them being the game-winner.
Wedgewood was yanked after suffering a likely case of whiplash, a combination of giving up four goals on 13 shots and getting bulldozed by Russian forward Alexander Khokhlachev on the last one.
Whether the Team Canada netminder was injured or not, head coach Don Hay needed to make a switch. Wedgewood hardly deserves to shoulder all the blame in this loss, but he also didn't make any highlight-reel stops to stop the onslaught.
Team Canada tried to pull off their own amazing comeback, but a five-goal hole was simply too deep.
Visentin, who was scored on twice on nine shots, was once again in the crease at the final buzzer and can only wonder what he might've been able to do if he had a chance to start.
AROUND THE BOARDS
This game featured so much diving I thought I was watching, uh, diving. To say soccer wouldn't even be fair to the 'beautiful game' ... It's been a long time since the pressbox at the Saddledome shook the way it was as Canada clawed back into this game ... Russia's Ildar Isangulov gets two minutes for a forearm shiver to Boone Jenner's melon and then Jenner gets a major and game misconduct for spearing? Call us homers, but that doesn't seem quite right ... Anybody that still thinks Tampa Bay Lightning loaner Brett Connolly was bitter about being dispatched for a junior tournament should've seen his celebration after scoring Canada's first goal.
OFF THE GLASS
That could leave a mark! In the opening period, Russian netminder Andrei Vasilevski swats Team Canada's Tanner Pearson in the teeth with his goal-stick ... The pain was probably worse for rugged winger Devante Smith-Pelly, forced to watch after breaking a bone in his foot in the tournament-opener ... Prior to Tuesday's semifinal, Russian star Evgeni Kuznetsov had collected nine points -- all of those coming in the final two periods of a 14-0 preliminary-round rout against Latvia ... Where's Jordan Eberle when you need him? They should've brought the former world junior hero south from Edmonton, too.
IN THE CORNERS
With the Russians leading 5-1 at the second intermission, Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi logged on to Twitter and insisted "I still have hope." He might have been the only one at that point, but he had millions of others join him in a thrilling finish ... In case you're wondering, six members of Team Canada are eligible to return for next year's tourney ... Is it too early to start calling the NHL's upcoming draft lottery the Nail Yakupov Sweepstakes? This guy is good.
On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson