Nobody told Team USA or Team Canada that their World Cup of Hockey game on Friday was just an exhibition.
The nastiness on display between the two teams was palpable from the get-go, with a handful of scrums and hard hits sprinkled throughout the first two periods. But nobody officially crossed the line until USA center Ryan Kesler caught Canada defenseman Shea Weber from behind along the end boards.
Weber is a large human being, so he got right back up and joined the melee that converged around Kesler. Kesler was given a five-minute major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct. Weber and Jonathan Toews ended up in the penalty box for roughing minors, giving the USA a power play out of the whole thing.
The Americans were derided by some for leaving the likes of Phil Kessel and Justin Faulk at home, seemingly choosing grit and “sandpaper” over skill. Considering their early lead over Canada and the roughness of their first World Cup match, maybe they weren’t totally wrong. We’ll have to wait and see.