Welcome to the sea of red in Buffalo, Ontario -- also known as HSBC Arena. This is it. Canada and Russia for the gold medal. The joint will be jumping and it will be packed. Coach Dave Cameron said this morning he was sick of talking about it and ready to play it. No argument from any of the media on hand.
In situations like this, your erstwhile reporter/blogger has nothing profound to say. The action on the ice has to do the talking. I don't need to add to the pregame noise. The teams are on the ice warming up. The faceoff will be at 7:38. Keep it here. I'll be posting through the din -- and attempting to do the job on all the Russian names.
Canada starters: Hamilton-Schenn-Eakin-Cowen-Barrie. Goal: Visentin
Russia starters: Valuiski-Tarasenko-Sobchenko-Orlov-Urychev. Goal: Shikin
Quite the pregame scene as the kid skaters parading the Canadian and Russian flags around the ice were bathed in spotlights and showered with flashbulbs from the crowd in the darkened area. Scotty Bowman doing the ceremonial puck drop. He belongs here. He's flanked by Chris Collins and Byron Brown. They do not.
9:18 p.m.: The puck is dropped
17:27 left: Artemi Panarin gets Russia on the board with a quick snapshot from the slot. Canada, 3-1.
17:14 left: Holy moly. Maxim Kitsyn suddenly makes it 3-2 by beating Ellis to a puck on the edge of the crease and dribbling it through Visentin's legs. Put that big party on Chippewa Street on hold. At least temporarily. These Russians simply don't go away. Canada, 3-2.
13:22 left: The tourney all-star team is out. Canada's Schenn is the MVP with the all-star team also including Ellis and Johansen, as well as US goalie Jack Campbell, Russian defenseman Dmitri Orlov and forward Kuznetsov. Campbell, Ellis and Schenn were also named the tourney's best at their position (goalie, defenseman, forward).
12:31 left: You gotta be kidding. Tarasenko ties it up on a one-timer after a great Kuznetsov feed. It's tied at 3-3. Canada coach Cameron calls a timeout and the crowd comes to its feet trying to get its players back in the game. Shots are 6-4 for Russia. Three goals on six shots. Visentin had given up two goals in eight periods. Crazy.
7:37 left: The tension is palpable in the stands -- and in the press box, where lots of stories that were mostly written have gone to an agonizing death.
4:38 left: Stunner. 4-3 Russia. Artemi Panarin takes the pass fromm behind the net and beats Visentin, getting to the puck in front of Simon Despres.
2:00 left: Incredible.
1:16 left: Nikita Dvurechenski with a backhander on a breakaway. IT'S 5-3 RUSSIA AND FOLKS ARE STREAMING TO THE EXITS. MIND-BOGGLING.
IT'S OVER: Russia wins 5-3. Final shots were 38-27 for Canada (10-9 Russia in the third).
8:28 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
18:25 left: Ellis makes it to the bench after playing nearly 20 seconds with a leg problem after colliding with a Russian player and sliding into the end boards with him. Kind of reminded you of Thomas Vanek-Johnny Boychuk. Visentin made a nice stop on Kuznetsov during the sequence with Ellis hobbling around trying to get in the play.
17:05 left: Cody Eakin, who has been solid in this one from the opening faceoff, is stopped by Shikin.
16:32 left: Uryhchev goes for interference. A 3-0 lead here would just about mean game over, wouldn't it? The Russians have, however, posted back-to-back comebacks.
14:50 left: The organist falls asleep and starts playing with the puck behind the Canada net. He must have thought it was an icing call. He quickly stops, prompting colleague Miguel Rodriguez at my side to quip, "He figured out it's not a Bandits game." Nice bomb from M-Rod.
13:33 left: There's the 3-0 lead and it's that man Schenn again, taking the long cross ice pass from Marcus Foligno and whipping it past Shikin. Schenn's 18th point to tie McCourt's record. And Russia changes goalies with Igor Bobkov going in.
12:30 left: Great save by Bobkov on Foligno and then Kassian tips an Ellis pass off the post with the goalie beaten. The building is going wild. This is domination right now.
12:13 left: Voronin gone for high sticking Ellis.
11:30 left: Visentin stops Sobchenko on a breakaway. A rare chance for the Russians to get back in.
9:27 left: Canada's Erik Gudbranson goes for boarding.
6:09 left: Visentin has been so good the last two games you really wonder why Olivier Roy was starting in goal at all. Good call by coach Dave Cameron & Co. to make the save after Roy struggled against Sweden. Another PP for Canada: Golubev off the for slashing.
4:29 left: Russian star Tarasenko is down after trying to duck away from Foligno and getting a knee to the head. Foligno then leveled another Russian before the whistle was blown.
1:14 left: Whoops. Six red jerseys on the ice in the offensive zone. Too many men on the ice for Canada.
End-2nd: It's 3-0 Canada. Shots were 15-9. That's 29-17 through two periods.
7:39 p.m. The puck is dropped. The place is packed. Noise, noise, noise. Quite a scene.
16:43 left: Canada has the only shot. The crowd has chanted "We want goals." Interesting to see how the Sabres are treating this one as a Canada home game. Good call. They know their market. PA man and all-around good guy Jay Moran is giving Sabres volume to Canada tonight after they got church volume against Team USA. Pretty funny contrast.
15:53 left: Good drive to the net by Ryan Johansen results in hooking penalty on Berdykukov. You'll forgive me if I leave out the Russian first names, won't you?
15:10 left: Ellis puts Canada up 1-0 by pounding home a one-timer on the left after a perfect cross-ice pass from Schenn. Shikin was screened/paying too much attention to Johansen and never really moved to his right at all. Few seconds earlier, the same play in reverse led to a great Schenn chance at a save. Nice celebration by Ellis too with the leaping fist pound into the glass.
12:09 left: An incredible 10 seconds or so by Ellis as he dominated bigger Russians behind the net and finally got the puck in front to an open Foligno, who just failed to get a good shot off. No team in this tournament had a better captain than Canada did with Ellis.
11:00 left: The HD board goes black like it did during the Sabres-Bruins game. Sort of like the ice surface, it's probably a little overworked by all the games in this tournament.
10:25 left: An impressive Brayden Schenn note -- his assist on the Ellis goal gives him 17 points in the tournament (7 goals, 10 assists). That's tied for second all-time in Canadian annals with two pretty well-known guys named Gretzky (1978) and Lindros (1991). Ex-Sabre Dale McCourt has the record of 18 set in 1977.
9:52 left: Kassian stopped on a backhand from the slot. Shots are 8-4 for Canada.
8:00 left: The organist starts up a little ditty of "The Hockey Song". Play starts and he stops playing. Doesn't matter. The fans sing a whole chorus on their own with no accompaniment. These people are dedicated.
7:41 left: They're trying to get the HD board back. It comes on for a second and the crowd cheers. It goes back to black and the fans groan. This happened during the Sabres-Bruins game too. In one of his last acts as owner, BTG needs to a write a check to get the repairman out to fix the giant Tinkertoy hanging from the ceiling. The entire board is down now. Previously, it was just the video portion in the middle and the score at the top was on. Not now.
5:06 left: Great play by Tyson Barrie to dive with his stick and chop the puck away from Kuznetsov as he tried to break in alone on Visentin.Came a few seconds after a Russian shot hit the crossbar. Looks like the board is back too.
1:35 left: Kassian destroys Berdyukov in the corner, knocking the Russian's feet up in the air. Too bad the kid can't just stay here when Team Canada leaves.
47.5 left: Solid stop by Visentin on Burdasov. The Russians have skated better in the last 10 minutes and are putting on more pressure. Shots are 13-8 for Canada.
13.5 left: HUGE goal for Canada makes it 2-0 as Carter Ashton works the give-and-go with Leblanc, steps out of the right corner and puts it high over Shikin's glove, off the post and in. Gotta make that save in the final seconds. Ashton's first of the tournament.
End-1st: The roar is deafening as Canada goes to the locker room with a 2-0 lead. Couldn't even hear the horn. Shots were 14-8.