This is another installment of our Classic Liveblog series, wherein I struggle to cope with the NHL offseason and chronicle historic games from simpler times. If you care to see previous entries:
- March 26, 1997: Red Wings vs. Avalanche
- 2002 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 5: Red Wings vs. Hurricanes
- 2002 Conference Finals, Game 7: Red Wings vs. Avalanche
- 2001 Michigan State vs. Michigan football game
- 1998 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 2: Red Wings vs. Capitals
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
It has been brought to my attention that, in the previous 606 entries of this blog, there has not been a single one devoted to the namesake of the site or the identity that I've unintentionally assumed over the past four years. We fix that today.
The 1994 Junior Goodwill Games were a tumultuous emotional battle for Gordon Bombay and his band of misfit hooligan children-turned national superstars. What was supposed to be a smooth march to the final round became and up-and-down battle with lucrative corporate distractions, mutinies, excessive hair gel and ice cream. But Team USA righted the ship in time for an apocalyptic showdown with the mighty Iceland squad -- the only remaining test that stood between them and a We Are The Champions final credits sendoff. To Arrowhead Pond!
- 20:00 -- On the mic for this game is L.A. Kings announcer Bob Miller and Jacques Berman. Considering Jacques is silent for the entire broadcast, this was clearly an "Eff you" move from Disney putting a guy named Berman on TV who doesn't say anything.
- 20:00 -- Injured Team USA Star Adam Banks -- who was believed to be lost for the tournament after taking a vicious slash to the wrist in the first Iceland-USA matchup -- miraculously shows up to the locker room fully healed just before the first puck is dropped. Never mind the fact that a 14-year-old kid is obviously taking steroids to just magically wake up completely recovered .... actually wait a minute, we should look into this. A 14-year-old kid is obviously taking steroids.
- 20:00 -- Banks, however, is stunned to hear his completely insane coach tell him, "I'm sorry, but we already have a full roster." Oh sure, he's only the best player on the team and wears #99 as if to say, "If it wasn't clear enough, I'm the most talented player you have BY FAR and here's the jersey number for symbolism," but keeping him scratched so that you can still dress the immortal Lester Averman is the wiser move, for sure.
- 20:00 -- But Banks doesn't have to worry, because wussbucket Charlie Conway is there to offer up his roster spot. "Really, Charlie? Are you sure?" "I'm sure Adam, it's cool. Don't worry." "No, I mean there's only like 12 kids on this team. We actually have another eight roster spots at least to use, Coach doesn't know what he's talking about." "No, I think this way is best. I don't want to play." "Are you serious? We roll only two lines and I've been playing like 45 minutes a game. We could use the extra legs." "No."
- 20:00 -- Both teams try to confuse each other during their pregame pep talks on the benches. Bombay's incredibly lame, "USA -- All the way!" almost makes their opponents die laughing while Iceland curiously yells out, "EASTLAND!"
- 19:26 -- Team USA starts out with a line of Guy Germaine, Kenny Wu and Les Averman to take on the high-scoring tandem of Gunnar Stahl and Olalf Sanderson. The much smaller Averman is bullied off the opening draw and Iceland begins to dominate physically as they did in their 12-1 blowout earlier in the tournament. After goaltender Greg Goldberg is tripped, Sanderson completes a wrap-around finish to put Iceland up 1-0.
- 18:55 -- After a terrible start one shift into the game, it would be hard not to look back to Bombay's comments on line-matching from a few weeks ago: "Matchups are stupid! Zone starts and all that crap, I just leave that for the nerds. I actually prefer to dig my team into a big hole early so I can get all motivational-y before the final act of this predictable movie I mean uh the 3rd period."
- 14:02 -- Bombay tries to play one of his wildcards early by sending out Knucklepuck-shooter Russ Tyler, but Stansson sees this and sends out his big guns to mark him. It must be noted that the refs appear to be letting things go. Tyler was just pinned to the glass without the puck by two men with no call. This type of game definitely benefits Iceland and their stalwart defenseman, Hal Gill.
- 13:34 -- Russ Tyler finds some space at the point and tries to tee up his specialty shot. But a great defensive play (i.e: a guy standing still who takes three years to shoot the puck has the puck stolen from him) turns it over to Iceland. Now on an odd-man-rush, Olalf Sanderson makes a stellar spin-o-rama move to set up an easy goal and it's 2-0 Iceland.
- 4:02 -- In a daring attempt to change up the momentum, Bombay sends out Adam Banks for the first time in the game. Utilizing your best scorer when you are down by two goals is a risky move, but USA is getting desperate.
- 3:45 -- Banks gathers possession and bursts through the neutral zone with his eye on the Iceland net. As he attempts a spin move, Sanderson again attempts to injure him with a wicked slash to the arm. This is a huge turning point in the game; certainly Sanderson is going to get ejec-- oh he's going off for two minutes. (But what about Adam Banks? Is his wrist okay? "I'm fine. He just hit the pad. Really." Banks must have been rattled pretty good considering he took a slash to the shoulder and not his injured wrist.)
- 2:05 -- Now on a power play, USA tries to get on the board. Team drunk Dwayne Robertson attempts to dangle through all four of Iceland's penalty killers instead of passing it to a wide open Connie Moreau, shouting, "A girl? Ha! Yee-haw!" This leads to a predictable turnover and Amselik darts off on a breakaway for Iceland. Speedster Luis Mendoza catches him but he and the puck go crashing into the net to give Iceland a 3-0 lead.
- 0:33 -- Bombay reaches into his bag of tricks once again. "Show me the Flying V!" Haha that sounds like a sex thing. Anyway, moments later, Jesse Hall leads Team USA on the attack right into the teeth of the Iceland defense. But their old Duck tricks don't work here as Iceland breaks up the rush, leading to a 4-on-0 breakaway. Gunnar Stahl fakes, passes over to Sanderson (there are other players on this team I swear) and it's another goal. 4-0 Iceland as the 1st period ends.
- 20:00 -- Bombay's stubbornness knows no bounds, as he again starts the overmatched Averman line for the 2nd period. "You guys wanna ease up a bit? Just thought I'd ask." Iceland continues where they left off, beating the Americans senseless while the referees are busy writing the script for the third movie.
- 19:41 -- USA appears to have had enough punishment, however. Enforcers Dean Portman and Fulton Reed take the ice and exert some of their own physicality. Double-clotheslines and charging penalties are ignored as the duo run amok on the stunned Iceland skaters. Wolf Stansson's only defense is to ask how two 30-year-olds are allowed to play at the Junior Goodwill Games, but once again there are no referees around to address this.
- 18:55 -- Kenny Wu carries the puck up the ice with speed before dropping it off to Reed. Wu splits the defense with a figure skating move because swinging your stick like a dangerous weapon is okay as long as it happens in Anaheim. Reed delivers a perfect pass to Wu who scores to make it a 4-1 game.
- 18:55 -- Wu then taunts the Iceland goalie and baits him into a fight, completing the Ken Wu Hat Trick (Goal, Fight, Triple Axel.)
- 18:55 -- Overcome by the joy of seeing Wu turn into a third Bash Brother, Reed and Portman lose it and spend the next five minutes celebrating and taunting the Iceland Bench. Despite getting the home crowd riled up, the Bash Brothers have put their team on the penalty kill and Iceland now has a 5-on-3. To recap: after being physically dominated in the first period to the tune of 4-0, USA responds by willfully committing three unsportsmanlike penalties immediately after they scored their first goal at an event with "Goodwill" in the title. Feels weird to say, but at this point I am thinking that Gordon Bombay may be the worst hockey coach of all time.
- 14:09 -- After miraculously killing off the 5-on-3 I guess, the now belligerently drunk Dwayne Robertson is given two minutes for roping. Quite an embarrassing period for Bombay's team. His allowing of Robertson to keep a lasso on the bench finally comes back to bite him in the ass.
- 0:00 -- Uh it's now the end of the 2nd period all of a sudden. OK.
- 0:00 -- Now that he has set his team up for failure, Bombay can properly and hypocritically lecture his team about moral values. "We're not goons, we're not bullies," he says as he looks the dejected Portman and Reed. So wait -- all that stuff they learned playing street hockey with the inner city kids ... was that bad? Did they show that part to demonstrate what not to do? Bombay basically just said that playing like how those black guys played would be sinking to a lower level, and that his team had to do the opposite. Have I assumed the online identity of an extreme racist for all of these years? Holy shit.
- 0:00 -- "Ken Wu -- San Francisco, California!" They seriously wrote this!
- 0:00 -- Jans: "And now new Ducks and old Ducks must unite under one banner. And I thought, something like this..."
- 20:00 -- .... And so to start the final period, Team USA reemerges from the locker room as the Mighty Ducks. Some old Scandinavian dude just walks into the locker room, starts talking about new "banners" and basically says, "That American flag you play for means nothing. It's these Ducks jerseys that will lead you to victory!" Huh? The whole "Team America" thing wasn't united enough for them? And this foreigner just walks in with some new sweaters and tells you to put them on instead? Not only is this the most disrespectful, unpatriotic thing I have ever witnessed, it may actually be government-levied propaganda for the institution of communism. If this Jans guy wasn't dead I'd be looking into this.
- 20:00 -- Announcer Bob Miller wonders if there's anything in the rules about changing jerseys during the intermission. Frankly I'm stunned that the Kings had never tried it before and that Miller didn't already know the rule from memory.
- 19:54 -- For the third straight period, USA starts with Lester Averman at center. But this time he is the bully on the opening faceoff, aided by the motivational Queen soundtrack.
- 18:48 -- It must be the jerseys. Connie Moreau scores what Bob Miller creepily calls, "a LOVELY goal" to make it 4-2 Iceland. Assisting on the goal is Kenny Wu, who is having himself quite an interesting game. He's from San Francisco.
- 17:16 -- Less than two minutes later, Averman -- who at this point I have to assume has compromising photos of Bombay blowing a walrus or something -- turns the puck over right in front of Goldberg. Gunnar Stahl has no problem netting his second goal of the game and just like that it's 5-2.
- 8:13 -- With things looking bleak, Charlie Conway finally gets to make his imprint on the game. As the whole team huddles around the bench, Conway devises an "alley oop" play. Alcohol-poisoned Dwayne Robertson stops with the puck at center ice, and flips it nearly as high as the scoreboard. Adam Banks, on his second shift of the game, chases after the puck as it bounces in front of the Iceland goalie, and deflects it in while being tripped. "Who's the guy who scored?" Bombay asks. 5-3 game.
- 2:00 -- Still in need of two goals, the Ducks desperately need a lucky break. They get it as a football game breaks out -- tackling is now happening left and right, all over the ice (like literally tackling, this is no exaggeration, players are just running into each other without the puck and falling down, it's remarkable) leaving open ice for Luis Mendoza. He turns on the afterburners and has a breakaway ... and for the first time in his life, he stops. "Put it in, Luis!" Bombay yells, again not talking about sex. Mendoza scores and it's now 5-4.
- 1:11 -- Bombay calls timeout after a whistle to come up with one last gimmick. It looks like the Ducks are moving behind the net to form the Flying V. Mendoza comes out with the puck, and drops it back -- to Goldberg? Why on Earth would they do this? In any event Iceland is obviously going to pay no attention to a fat cheesesteak with no hockey ski-- Oh but it's Russ Tyler! The moron takes off his helmet to reveal he's the Knucklepuck guy, thus taking away the element of surprise. No matter though, because mass tackling continues to clear a way for him. He tees up the Knucklepuck, fires -- and scores! And just like every hockey movie ever, it's improbably scored with 0:00 on the clock. It's 5-5 and we head to a shootout.
- I'm sorry to keep pointing this out, but Averman was on the ice for the final shift of regulation while Banks was on the bench. It's entirely possible that Dale Hunter bases his whole coaching philosophy on this movie.
- Jesse Hall starts off for the Ducks. He begins as a left-handed shooter, then a righty, then a lefty again, and then he scores. What a mesmerizing trick!
- Iceland and the Ducks trade goals, and then Goldberg makes a big glove save. Fresh off an intermission liver transplant, Dwayne Robertson is next. He defies his own gimmick by attempting no stick handling moves whatsoever and his shot is easily saved. An 8-year-old figure skater and pansy-assed Guy Germaine can score goals in this game but the stick handling guy doesn't. Sure.
- Iceland battles back to make it 3-3 in the shootout, and now it's Adam Banks' turn. He takes the Jesse Hall approach by confusing the goaltender of his stick-handedness; earlier in the game he was a righty, but now he's a lefty. And what's this ... he dekes left, then right, then left .... three dekes ..... The Triple Deke (a bucket of Nickelodeon Gak falls on my head) .... Banks holds, fires -- and scores! Now the Ducks are one save away from victory.
- In an unprecedented coaching move, Bombay goes to his backup goalie, Julie Gaffney, to make the final save against Iceland's best player. "I know this kid's move: triple deke, glove side." For crying out loud. There are other moves out there, guys. (I'm actually surprised, though. I was certain that the next words out of his mouth were going to be, "Averman, you're in for Goldberg."
- Gunnar Stahl lines up for his shot. He sees a girl is playing goalie and laughs because he is sexist. He also looks like Huck from Tom & Huck. Brad Renberg I think his name was. Anyways it's not important... Stahl very slowly inches his way up the ice. He dekes three times as Gaffney dramatically counts off each one like shotgun blasts. Stahl comes to a dead stop and takes a slapshot from about 50 feet out... in a shootout, mind you (at this point Jiri Hudler is furiously scribbling down notes). Gaffney goes to make the save and the crowd goes quiet. They're pretty sure she made the save because the little black disc isn't in the net. But just to be sure, they wait for Gaffney to flip the puck out of her glove before going wild. Ducks win the shootout, America wins the Junior Goodwill Games and Gordon Bombay has sex with the lady from Law and Order.
- Lastly: Moments after the game, word leaks out that Iceland's head coach, Wolf "The Dentist" Stansson, has just been accused of felony battery after striking Gordon Bombay's knee in a one-on-one hockey game the day before, and would be arrested immediately. "I mean come on, I'm a lawyer," Bombay said when reached for comment. "To think he could just try to chop my wounded leg off with a hockey stick and get away with it is pretty stupid. The guy is going to jail right like right now. It's hilarious!"
USA, all the way!