USA upsets Canada in Olympic ice hockey

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Canada 3 5 United States

The United States men's ice hockey team upset host country Canada, 5-3, in a preliminary round game on Sunday at the Winter Olympics. It is being called the Americans' biggest Olympic win since the 1980s "Miracle on Ice" victory over the former Soviet Union.

The game was only 41 seconds in when Brian Rafalski of Team USA fired a slap shot that deflected off Canadian star Sidney Crosby's stick and bounced past Canadian goalkeeper Martin Brodeur.

The Canadians evened the game on a goal nearly nine minutes into the contest on Eric Staal's shot. The capacity crowd roared its approval and the stadium announcer was still giving the details of Staal's goal when Rafalski scored again.

Canada evened the game in the second period, but American Chris Drury put Team USA ahead again, 3-2. The Americans took a 4-2 lead on Jamie Langenbrunner's shot with just under 13 minutes left in the game.

Cquote1.svg We’re in the winning business. And to win at any level you need momentum-changing saves. Cquote2.svg

—Mike Babcock, Canadian men's ice hockey team coach

Crosby cut the U.S. lead to 4-3 with about three minutes left. Canada pulled goalie Brodeur, adding an extra attacker in a desperate attempt to tie the contest. The hosts had clearly outplayed the Americans, with a shot advantage of 45-23. But U.S. goalie Ryan Miller, frustrated the Canadians all night, including their last-ditch attack.

Then with just 45 seconds left in the contest, American Ryan Kesler reached around his opponent to slap the final U.S. goal into the empty Canadian net, making it 5-3.

The game was just a preliminary round match, but in hockey-mad Canada, where the sport first originated, it was more than that. To lose to the United States in the Olympics on home soil was devastating.

After the game, Canada fans — many in replicas of the team's red and white Maple Leaf jerseys — seemed stunned as they filed out of the Canada Hockey Place. Some Americans chanted "U-S-A, U-S-A!" But many Canadians, including Melissa Mazeman of Winnipeg, Manitoba, were still trying to realize what had happened.

"As soon as that first goal was scored within in the first minute, that did hurt, it was kind of crushing," she said. "But every U.S. player — or every U.S. fan I have seen on the street — I have said congratulations [to]."

Meanwhile, Canadian coach Mike Babcock has replaced Brodeur in the lineup, with Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks. Babcock said Brodeur's coordination with his defensemen that led to turnovers and four goals out of 22 American shot attempts. He also noted that Brodeur did not make many big saves.

Babcock said, "We’re in the winning business. And to win at any level you need momentum-changing saves."

Cquote1.svg As soon as that first goal was scored within in the first minute, that did hurt, it was kind of crushing. Cquote2.svg

—Melissa Mazeman, Canadian fan

Team USA fan David Loring of Colorado Springs, Colorado, one of a vastly outnumbered corps of fans wearing USA Hockey gear, gave goalkeeper Ryan Miller the credit for preserving the win.

"[Team USA] played really well tonight. I have to tell you, they got outplayed by Canada. We had some really good goalie work this evening. Brodeur made some nice saves, but Miller really played well tonight. That was the difference I thought."

Cquote1.svg I’m not happy with the way we’ve played to this point. We have to play significantly better. We’re playing with about 10 guys carrying us. They don’t hand out any medals for finishing first in the preliminary round. Cquote2.svg

—Brian Burke, US men's ice hockey team general manager

However, not all Americans are happy. The general manager of the U.S. men's team, Brian Burke, feels the team isn't playing at it's best. "I’m not happy with the way we’ve played to this point. We have to play significantly better. We’re playing with about 10 guys carrying us. They don’t hand out any medals for finishing first in the preliminary round," Burke said.

He continued saying, "Our center-ice play, we’ve made some glaring turnovers that have resulted in scoring chances. And our overall intensity for 60 minutes — for the first 10 minutes in the second period, I thought we were nonexistent."

Chris Drury agreed saying, "I’d still say we would be the underdogs on our lack of experience, certainly now that the tournament takes on a whole new meaning with single elimination. We do need to get a lot better."

The win is the United States' first Olympic win over Canada since the 1960 Winter Olympics. It also came one day short of the 30th anniversary of the U.S. hockey win over the former Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics' Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid.

The victory assures the Americans an automatic quarterfinal berth. Canada could still make the round of eight, but must beat Germany in a play-in game Tuesday to reach the quarterfinals.

Sources

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