Two weeks ago we all thought Canada would win gold medal and Russia would be playing alongside them. Nobody expected the United States to earn a medal, never mind take the best hockey team in the world to overtime in the gold medal game. The United States went further than anyone could have predicted but in the end Sidney Crosby beat Ryan Miller to give Canada the gold medal that everyone expected they would earn.
Last Sunday the United States scored less than a minute into the game and they never looked back in their upset of Canada. This week they played more tentatively and it was Canada that struck first. In fact Canada scored the games first two goals before the Americans scored on a deflection by Ryan Kesler.
The Americans carried the momentum into the third but Canada had a perfect game plan and limited the United States chances. It looked like Canada would take home gold before the extra session was needed but the Americans started putting on pressure in the final two minutes. When Miller went to the bench for a sixth skater they increased the pressure and Zach Parise made Americans throughout the country collectively jump out of their seat. Parise scored with 24.4 seconds left in regulation and gave the Americans a chance.
The overtime seen both teams play not to lose instead of playing aggressively. It is a smart tactic when playing 4-on-4 but the best chance for the USA was to pressure the Canadians and they didn't. In the end the Canadians took advantage of an American miscue and Sidney Crosby became a Canadian hero.My Personal Disappointment
I told myself that I would not be disappointed if the United States fell short of winning the gold medal. After all, the Canadians were the favorites and beating them twice would be nearly impossible. Despite my best efforts, it was impossible to not become emotionally submersed in the game.
When all was said and done, I was equally disappointed after this loss as I was when the Sabres lost in game seven against the Canes or game six against the Dallas Stars. It was a gut-wrenching loss that I and many other Americans will not soon forget.
Was This Game Good for the Popularity of Hockey?
I'm personally tired of hearing about what is good and not good for hockey. I don't think it is an easy task to turn non-hockey fans into hockey fans and I'm okay with that. Hockey fans are a different breed and most are as passionate about the game itself as their favorite team. It is difficult to find that in many sports.
With that being said, this game was not good for the popularity of hockey. It was exciting because of the score and many non-hockey fans were probably highly anticipating the outcome but that was because it was the USA vs. Canada. Those people have already forgot about hockey.
The game was exciting because of the score but beyond that it was dull. It was a poorly officiated game that ended with the best cheater winning. That was not meant as a knock on Canada but rather the referees. They called almost nothing despite a game that seen more hooking and holding than any other in the tournament. The Canadians deserved the win but a more wide open game would have been exciting for the non-hockey fans in the world.
The media selected Ryan Miller as the tournament MVP and deservedly so. It was a fun two weeks of hockey and Miller was a big part of that. He was outstanding the entire tournament and that was never more evident than the Americans upset victory over Canada last week.
The other members of the tournament all-star team were Zach Parise (USA), Shea Weber (Canada), Pavel Demitra (Slovakia), Jonathan Toews (Canada) and Brian Rafalski (USA).