September 22 2008 10:01AM
As Oilers training camp is in full swing, our mind turns to the same thing year after year after year: The Bulgarian Woman’s Olympic Hockey Team. As we all know, the early games are being played for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. And as we all know, Bulgaria had a qualifying match against the Slovakians a few days back. Slightly overmatched, the Bulgarians doubtlessly trained hard for the game ensuring they ate right, practiced regularly and avoided the garish club scene in Riga, Latvia the night before. How did the Bulgarians fare, you ask? Well, Nation, we are saddened to report that they couldn’t comeback from an early deficit after the first period—narrowly trailing the Slovaks 31–0 after one. The plucky Bulgarian team couldn’t do much right in their own end, letting in a goal every 44 seconds for the entire game. Nor could they get it done in the other end—which ultimately probably led to the overall 82–0 loss. We aren’t saying that being outshot 139–0 will lead to a loss each and every time, but on this night it was sadly the case. One would have thought the Bulgarians would have put up a better showing. Coming into the game, they had come off three close tournament matches losing 41–0 to Italy, 39–0 to Latvia and 30–1 to Croatia. Coaching points have to be awarded to the Bulgarian head coach, who steadfastly refused to pull his starting goalie Lyubomira Shosheva throughout most of the game. The confidence that the coach placed in his tender was only shaken after the 77th goal of the game had slipped into the net. The backup didn’t fare much better, letting in five goals on five shots she faced in the remaining 1:25 of the game. Was it because backup goalie Kameliya Drazheva is only 16 years old? It’s tough to say—we may have to see a Corsi Rating or a /+60EVV count to be able to determine why the two were unable to stop all 82 goals. We know exactly what you’re thinking. What did Dobromir Krustev, the head of the Bulgarian Ice Hockey Federation, have to say about this? Well he came to the defence of his country saying “What the Slovaks did to us was kind-of an insulting mockery, and is not at all sportsmanlike." What isn’t sportsman like is the scraps that broke out at the end of the game, included in our YouTube footage. Where is the grace? Where is the dignity? Where is the ability to take an 82–0 on your feet and say “I won’t go into next game facing possible suspension. I will do my country proud and...” Ah screw it. You know what? If there’s ever a time to start a line brawl, it’s after the game is safely out of reach. Like trailing by 80 goals out of reach. What does fellow countryman Lubomir Vishnovsky have to say about the major victory for his nation? Well, he wasn’t available for comment, but we would have to guess he is proud. 82–0 proud.
Does it seem incredible to anyone else that the starting goalie’s name is Lyubomira? Lubomir, meet Lyubomira. Lyubomira, Lubomir.
—Wanye Gretz considers himself now a staunch supporter of the Bulgarian Women’s National Hockey Team, and goaltender Lyubomira Shosheva to be his favorite player. He can be reached at email@example.com