'Toon in to 4Nats!

This is a comment on the TIG Roundtable for predictions of how 4 Nations Cup 2018 will go. With it being a lot of text, I decided to make it a FanPost after all.

I’m going with the crowd who say USA and Canada will be battling for Gold again. That’s not to say Finland can’t do it, but I still think it’ll be USA-CAN. I like that both teams are giving a look at more of the younger players, what with the restart of the Olympic Cycle and all. For PyeongChang, it seemed like Canada cut out some of the more young players when the final cuts came along, so no Potomak Sisters, no Halli Krzyzyzyzaniak, no Erin Ambrose, and such. Canada still had right-out-of-college players like Emily Clark and Sarah Nurse, but I always feel in the Olympic Games, it’s still good to have that mix of youth and veterans, so good to see both North American teams hitting that up.

With Finland, I’m with Meredith on how Women’s Worlds at home is on their crosshairs as far as the big picture. So while Finland’ll go for the Gold, they’ll be happy to learn whatever else they can at this tournament. I’m really happy that I got to see Finland make history and beat Canada in person at Worlds 2017, and it was fun seeing them give the US a run the next game. However, I can’t recall seeing games between Finland and one of the Big 2 end with as close of a score as the Plymouth Games since. So with that, I’m also not sure how much the element of surprise was a factor at Worlds 2017, because they hung with USA for most of that game, even after USA knew Finland beat Canada.

Also, Women’s Worlds 2017 was the craziest tournament ever, because Russia actually beat Finland even in the prelims…something about ice conditions, or the moorings (if that’s how you spell it) on the nets being made of steel, causing an annoyance for Noora Raty as the net kept on popping and interruptin play. But anyway, here’s what happened at Worlds ’17—It’s like a chain reaction of every team winning. At on point: Czechs beat Switzerland, the Swiss beat the Germans, the Germans beat Russia, Russia beat Finland, Finland beat Canada, and then the chain breaks with the US, because no one beat the US, but we know Canada is definitely capable of doing so. And I can’t quite recall—I know Sweden lost to Finland, but I believe they beat Switzerland and…lost to Germany if I remember correctly. And then Switzerland beat Germany in the prelims…anyway, sometimes you may just never know what happens, and maybe the gaps are more closed than we think!

But yeah, I super excited about Finland having home ice for Worlds ’19, considering they did beat Canada and had a good game against the US. Just seeing one of 3-8 (now 3-10!!!!!) being better made that tournament way more fun! Imagine them being close games in Finland, in front of the home crowd! But with all that, I’ll still predict USA and Canada in the Gold Match. Whoever will win that is honestly anybody’s guess, as the teams are neck and neck. Both teams have a mix of vets and kids. Lately USA has been winning the tournaments and losing ‘unimportant’ games (like they say, don’t tell that to the players!) like prelims or exhibition. USA pulled together the Gold Medal win in PyeongChang even after the Olympic Tour adversity and USA Hockey’s mishandling of centralization by only putting 23 players in Florida at the start instead of starting with 26 or 27 players, you know, like any other front office would do ever. I wasn’t sure if USA was going to the Gold after all that confusion for the players and families with the way they handled centralization, but they still came together and pulled off the win in both 4 Nations 2017 and the Olympics.

I mention the confusion thing because I’m the proud owner of a ‘United States Hockey 2018’ shirt that I bought and which was sent to me by a US player’s family who were selling them fund their trip to Korea, but then the player later got cut after they added 3 players to the initial 23. I won’t say which player, but she’s now back on the US roster for this tournament. But yeah, anyway, it’s hard to say who will win Gold. I think I’ll go with USA, because deadly players like Meghan Agosta and Jenny Wakefield are missing. But I suppose others could become part of the Poulin Deadly Wingwomen Society. I feel like these intense matchups come down to the clutch a lot of times. When I was at a USA-CAN game in Minnesota last December, I kept repeatedly saying out loud, "Don’t let Agosta in alone, don’t let Agosta in alone," and then…of course, at one point Agosta had a lot of space in the O-zone, left side, and then what happened?

Also, I hope the refs don’t mess anything up either: 2 years ago, at the 4Nats in Finland, they missed an offsides, and the US scored on that same play, and we were off to the races at that point. So I am definitely hoping for good reffing. I like to see the US win, but it’s better when the reffing is good. I mean, what if Kelli Stack would have actually scored after she got the puck from that Canadian player that bumped into the ref? Well, I mean…the win still would have been good (sigh).

Also, Sweden’s gonna get 4th place, but I hope they can come in as an improved team. As a St. Louisan, I wish Jincy Dunne and Nicole Hensley were on the US Roster, but at least this isn’t Worlds yet. Also, Emily Clark’s not on Canada? I realize she’s from Saskatoon. It’s like a National Team curse where players don’t get to play in their hometown when a tournament comes. It’s like in Plymouth, where I wore my Shi Dark jersey, and several people came up to me asking if I knew her or if I was related to her. But sadly she wasn’t playing in that tournament, despite being in Kamloops the year before.

Speaking of Kamloops (that town needs to manufacture their own cereal)! I remember that the US beat Canada even though they didn’t have Hannah Brandt or Amanda Kessel, so it seem like it’s always going to be hard to predict which team will win given the talent pool they could choose from. Alright, I could go on and on, but I’ll close it out now. Four Nations Cup 2018: I settle with USA—1st, Canada—2nd, Finland—3rd, Sweden—4th. So 'Toon in to 4Nats! Hopefully it's not HockeyTV streaming it.

-Brandon M.