A bad loss on the ice and a worse backlash on the internet
Our Team Canada representing at the 2019 IIHF World Juniors left the country and world stunned in a 2-1 loss from Finland in the quarter-finals of the tournament. This would mark the first time ever that Canada would not contend for a medal on home soil.
Finland players and fans were found celebrating their overtime goal. Canadian goaltender, Michael DiPietro of Windsor, ON would be found fallen to the ice in misery. Captain Maxime Comtois of Longueuil, QC, would be heard telling interviewers, “We lost and it’s tough right now.” Meanwhile a broken Bauer stick would be laying somewhere in Rogers Arena in Vancouver BC, holding all the lost hope Canada had in winning.
Losing a game of such importance can be extremely upsetting to these young boys, all under the age of 20, but to make matters worse, some Canadians took to social media to make their hateful feelings known. These comments, along with a bold note from one Finnish Company only added insult to injury.
Specifically, Comtois fell victim to online abuse because of his failed penalty shot in overtime. His integrity as a player, leader and human being were all called to question.
Roy Sports Group, representing Comtois, put out the following statement:
“It is shameful and incomprehensible that a few cowards who can hide behind social media could make such vicious attacks on these young men’s character after they have battled their hearts out for their country. We will make this one and only statement on this subject, so not to validate anymore the cowardly comments made on social media. It was Maxime’s idea to use this as a learning moment for all of the youth of Canada, that cyber bullying is a real problem, and like all bullies, we all need to stand up to them and call them out for what they are.”
Noah Dobson, a native of Summerside, PEI, shared similar heartbreak to that of Comptois. During the same overtime, Dobson had his stick break on the ice right before shooting the puck on an open net. In addition to nasty comments and posts on social media, one Finnish hockey stick company, PAMA, managed to make matters worse.
“Dear Noah! We at PAMA Hockey feel sorry that your equipment gave up on you at the worst possible moment. We know how polite the Canadians are, so we want to give you this Finnish hockey stick, PAMA PHX Carbon as a gift for a great hockey game. We hope the best for your upcoming career!” The note was signed by CEO Antti-Jussi Tiitola of PAMA Hockey, Finland.
After having lost to Finland in the deciding game, this was one final unwarranted jab at the young team.
It is so important that this negativity is addressed and not condoned. The participants of the IIHF World Juniors are younger than 20 years old and should not be facing hatred from the country they dedicated all their waking hours to. At any age, Canadian hockey players deserve a round of applause for consistently staying classy, disciplined, and skilled. These young boys will go on to be stars in the NHL just like the current stars that were in their skates before.
We must recognize as a country that Canadian hockey is not getting worse, but the rest of the world is improving and in this tournament’s case, has caught up. The good old game has expanded internationally over the last century into a phenomenon that James Creighton, Stompin’ Tom Connors, and all Canadians should be proud of.