Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Where The Bieks-Have You Been?

Kevin Bieksa, seen here casually reclining against a Dallas Stars player, has always been a physically dominant force while on the ice. He didn't throw as many devastating hits in his career as a Scott Stevens, but Bieksa knew how and when to deliver some physical punishment on opponents. From his time with the Manitoba Moose after the Canucks brought him in on a professional tryout contract, it seemed his brand of physicality was destined for the bright lights of the NHL.

After 13 seasons in the NHL, Bieksa found himself this summer without a contract and looking for work. Far from being retired at age 37, Bieksa decided to change it up a bit in order to showcase his talents. While there weren't a ton of options, Bieksa decided to give Sean Burke and Ron Francis a call and offer his services to Hockey Canada for the 2018 Spengler Cup which began today. After seeing other players such as Curtis Joseph and James Wisniewski find work after a Spengler Cup appearance, Bieksa committed to the team for the week-long tournament in Switzerland.

You'd have to believe that a number of the players from the other five teams knew about Bieksa's phyiscal brand of hockey, but it seems that HC Davos' Andres Andres Ambühl decided to ignore the warnings about Bieksa while trying to play his own brand of hockey. The result? See below.
Holy cow, that was a hit. Clean, zero injuries from the hit, and thrown beautifully by the former NHL defenceman. For the record, Ambühl was fine on the bench moments later and played the remainder of the game after making the highlight reels across Canada by being the recipient of that hit.

It should be noted that outside of the big hit thrown by Bieksa, it took an outstanding effort from Zach Fucale and the defencemen for Canada to withstand a fired-up HC Davos team in the third period to hold on for the 2-1 victory. With the win, Canada gets a day off before battling the Nürnberg Ice Tigers of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga on Friday while Davos will meet the German Elite League team tomorrow afternoon. On the other side, it took a shootout for the KHL's Metallurg Magnitogorsk to squeeze past HC Ocelari Trinec of the Czech Extraliga by a 2-1 score, so Trinec will meet Kuopio KalPa of the Finnish Elite League tomorrow morning while Metallurg prepares for their meeting with the Finnish squad on Friday.

The Spengler Cup is always one of my favorite tournaments of the year, and Bieksa seems to be enjoying his time in Switzerland this holiday season as well!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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