Today, we actually get a bonus entry - an "11", if you will (or honorable mention, if you prefer).
While not quite as "Peanut butter and jelly" as "Brazil and soccer/football", if Canada is associated with one sport, I think it's fair to say that it's hockey (ice hockey, for the uninitiated). I'm not going to go into history on it but we just have a pretty good track record. Canadians make up over 40% of the player base in the NHL - recognized as the best league in the world. After that, Canada's traditional rivals of USA (26.5%) and Russia (5.2%) hold a significant percentage, as does Nordic powerhouse Sweden (10.7). Rounding out the top five are Sweden's neighbours to the east, Finland (5%). Despite that relatively small representation in the NHL, Finland has brought some absolute BEASTS to the game of hockey (more on specifics later). Besides freakishly good players, you can expect one other thing form Finland in hockey: they always come to play.
Need proof? Look no further than the past two weeks. Finland shows up to the World Hockey Championships with exactly ZERO NHL players and all they did was win the tournament. An outsider's gut reaction might be, "oh, they must have gotten lucky with their matches, right?" - WRONG. They opened the tournament against Canada and worked a team of strictly NHL players 3-1. They would lose in OT to the US (who strangely sent a good team for once) and closed out the group stage with a weird loss to Germany but won every other game they played.
"Oh but they got a break during the knock-out stages I bet". NOPE. Losing to Germany meant they had to play Sweden in the FIRST knockout round. Boom, 5-4 OT win. NBD, just beat the best goalie of the last 10 years and the game's brightest young star. Next up? Just Russia. Just the best goal scorer of the last 20 years (Ovechkin), the reigning points leader (Kucherov) and the absolute freak and nightmare match-up that is Evgeni Malkin. 1-0, see you later. On to a rematch with Canada.
But this is a different Canada. They've been playing together, gelling, getting better with every game. And it IS a different game. It's all even going into the final period. It's anyone's game...
Antilla: "Yeah, coach?"
Coach: "Score again"
Antilla: "K, coach"
Antilla: "Can I tell Harri to score too?"
Coach: "Yes, please do"
Dusted. Finland 3, Canada 1. Finland are World Hockey Champions.
I would love to use the excuse that none of our good players were there and I might be justified - except neither were Finland's. Again, all NHLers versus NO NHLers. Once again, Finland came to play.
Shoutouts to Kaapo Kakko, that guy is gonna be a star.