If you are a fan of international hockey this is one of your favorite times of the year as the World Junior Championships are right around the corner. Every year it proves to be one of the most exciting tournaments in all of hockey as some of the game's future stars gather to represent their respective counties in one of the most competitive tournaments in all of hockey.
In preparation for that tournament I thought I would share with our readers one of my personal favorite moments from the World Juniors in recent years, and it is one that I think a lot of fans might not immediately think of when reflecting back on some of the great moments of the past in World Juniors hockey.
The stage is the 2015 World Junior Championship and the match up is between international hockey powerhouse Team Canada who are taking on Team Slovakia. Coming into the game everyone expected a massive blowout given how badly Canada had dominated Slovakia to open the tournament, the score was 8 - 0 and it could have been much worse given how badly the Canadians dominated that game, but the Slovaks had a special weapon, goaltender Denis Godla.
Godla had been pulled in that first game, through no fault of his own as his team was completely dominated in every facet of the game, and he came well prepared for the rematch. His team would eventually lose by a score of 5 - 1 but the scoreline would not tell the story of Godla's performance in that game to say the least. The Slovakian goalie made a series of frankly godlike saves, stunning the Toronto crowd at the Air Canada Center on more than one occasion and even causing some of the Canadian faithful to cheer every time he made one of his incredible stops. If not for Godla's heroic performance in goal that day the Canadians could easily have put up another 8 goals on them like they had earlier in the tournament.
It was after the game however that perhaps my all time favorite moment in World Junior hockey took place. Following the game the "player of the game" awards were handed out to a member of each team and it was clear that the Canadian crowd in Toronto was waiting for Denis Godla's name to be called. It was not Godla who was given the awarded however, an award selected by the team's themselves, but the Canadian crowd would not let the goaltenders amazing performance in a loss go celebrated.
As Godla's teammate skated forward to claim his award the Canadian crowd, many of whom clearly did not know Godla's name, began to chant "goalie, goalie, goalie." The chant grew in intensity until it reached a fever pitch so loud that even the broadcast was forced to comment on it, and it caught the attention of the players on the ice as well. Many of them began to look around nervously until Godla raised his glove hand in salute to the crowdm acknowledging their emotional salute to his amazing performance.
It was a true show of class from the Canadian crowd, one directed at a player that many of them likely had never seen play before, and one that Slovakian fans around the world will likely remember fondly for a very long time indeed.
If you would like to see the saves that won him such adoration from a foreign crowd, check out this short clip below.