Fans stuck outside
As the 4 p.m. opening faceoff approached for Sunday's marquee matchup between Canada and Russia, there were as many red-clad fans outside HSBC Arena as inside. The doors were jammed with ticket holders trying to enter the building, including many who had just left.
Germany and Switzerland played in the arena at 12:30 p.m. Since each game requires a new ticket, even for people who purchased an all-session pass, the arena had to be cleared following Switzerland's 4-3 victory. The game ended at 2:53 p.m., leaving just 67 minutes to empty and refill the building.
A spokesman for the Buffalo Sabres, who are helping run the tournament, said the organizers anticipated the problems associated with the turnaround. The schedule will repeat itself Tuesday and Friday, so fans should prepare accordingly.
Army ranger visits USA
The intensity of the tournament can make the players forget that it's just a game after all. Team USA was reminded of that during a visit from someone who wore a different kind of American uniform.
Joe Dames, a former captain with the Army Rangers division, spent Wednesday with the players as part of a team-building exercise. Dames did six tours of duty in Iraq between 2006 and 2009, and he was awarded the Purple Heart and two bronze stars.
"It's a hard thing to go in the military, and his training and what he does for our country is just amazing," U.S. forward Jerry D'Amigo said. "It shows to us that we're in our little world and it may not be as tough as we think. We're playing hockey and he's battling for his life out there."
Dames, who was honorably discharged after being wounded in combat last year, spoke to the U.S. Olympic team as it prepared for February's Vancouver Games.
"It certainly had an impact on me, and I'm not a 20-year-old kid," U.S. junior coach Keith Allain said. "When you see a guy like that who's wearing the same USA uniform and he's willing to sacrifice it all for the rest of us, certainly the guys listen when he speaks."
Raise your glass
It was hard to tell what was raised higher following Canada's 6-3 victory over Russia, the tall cans of Labatts and Molsons or the cameras and video phones.
The Canadian national anthem blared through the speakers to celebrate the country's win, with the lined-up players tapping their sticks at the blue line and the fans on their feet. Most of them had their hands raised, either toasting the team with their homeland brews or recording the moment on their phones.
Marko chips in
It's always interesting how locals seem to be eager to devote their time in order to make Western New York look good when big-time events roll into town.
Among the many volunteers during the IIHF World Under-20 Championship is former Sweet Home hockey star Ryan Marko. The Panthers' all-time scoring leader -- who is currently playing for Fort Erie in the Golden Horseshoe Hockey League -- spent the first day of the world juniors at HSBC Arena helping out the Canadian Tire crew with its interactive display to promote its hockey school. At the display, people stand in front of a green screen and then get to strike a hockey pose with Chicago Blackhawks star center Jonathan Toews.
"If you're a hockey player it's one of the events you look forward to watching," Marko said. "It's really cool seeing the costumes people have on to show pride for their country and the extent they take it to."
Compiled by News Sports Staff