May 11, 2009

Dustin Brown's KaBOOM! Blog: Hello from Switzerland!

Below, KaBOOM! All-Star Playmaker Dustin Brown guest blogs for KaBOOM! from the 2009 IIHF World Hockey Championships.

The past three weeks have been a fun and exciting time for me. I have been in Berne, Switzerland participating in the 2009 IIHF World Hockey Championships.

We started out in Zurich, which is a beautiful city. While there, we played an exhibition game against the Swiss and it was quite amazing to see how passionate the Swiss fans are for the sports of hockey. Zurizh as a city was a lot of fun, but our team was going to play in Berne for the tournament, so we left Zurich on a bus to Berne, which took about an hour and a half. It was a great opportunity to see the countryside of Switzerland.

Once we arrived in Berne, we started the tournament. We qualified first in Group D after three games against Latvia, Sweden and Austria. After the first round, we had a day off, which provided a great opportunity to see the City of Berne. The two things that amazed me and makes Switzerland different is the feeling of the city and how people are relaxed. When compared to the U.S. where everyone is always hurrying around, it seems people in Berne are in no hurry in either work or play. The other thing that amazed me is that this trip has given me a good perspective on how young we are as a country. We had a chance to visit a castle on Lake Geneva that was built over 1,000 years ago. It’s funny when you think about it since our country is only 223 years old.

The second round of the tournament got a little tougher as we lost two our of three games, but the important thing is that we qualified for the the quarterfinals. We were going to have to play Finland, which has knocked Team USA out of this tournament a few times in recent memory. I was on one of those teams last year. However, we prevailed in this case in beating Finland 3-2. I had the first goal of the game for Team USA. Winning the game gave us a shot at a medal either way. If we beat Russia in the semifinals, we would play for the gold and, if not, we would play for the bronze.

The rematch with Russia was intense. They had beaten us 4-1 in the second round of the tournament, but this game was different since it was do or die for both teams and the intensity was a lot higher. I again started off the scoring for Team USA, but Russia came right back. After two periods it was tied 2-2. The third period was a good one. It was back and forth with both teams getting good chances, but nobody scored until 1:47 was left in the game and Russia managed to get one behind our goalie on a powerplay.

Just like that, we had lost. It was a tough loss for sure, but we had a day to rebound before playing Sweden for the bronze medal and, unfortunately, we weren’t able to take home the bronze. Still, It’s quite amazing that out of 16 teams in the tournament that the USA had a chance to win the bronze. What makes that amazing is that we are the youngest team in the tournament with an average age of 24.2 years. We were the underdogs coming into the tournament.

This trip has been long for me personally. I have two little boys at home that I miss dearly, along with my wife. However, this trip has also taught me a lot about the rest of the world. I think sometimes we can get caught up in our world and we fail to see the rest of it. One thing that is a constant whether you are in Switzerland or the USA is children and with children comes play. I think the coolest thing I saw this trip was the outdoor skate park for kids. How they kept the ice is beyond me since it was pretty warm out, but they kept it going. Every day I went to the rink whether it was for practice or games and the ice was open for the kids to enjoy. It was great to see kids having fun, but also to see them playing hockey. I remember when I was a kid and all I wanted to do was play hockey all day. These kids were getting that opportunity and that’s great.

-Dustin

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