Sochi Olympics 2014: Will American Men's Ice Hockey Team Win Gold?
The Olympic Men's Hockey tournament is still in the preliminary rounds, but a classic matchup has already taken place. On Saturday, Team USA defeated Team Russia by a score of 3 goals to 2 at the raucous Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi. That score is a little bit deceiving though when one takes into account the eight shootout rounds that had to be played out after regulation. St. Louis Blue's center T.J. Oshie scored four shootout goals to propel the Americans to victory.
The hype coming into Saturday's game was tremendous, but somehow the two sides managed to exceed all expectations. Why was everyone looking forward to this game? Historically, the American men have struggled against Russia. In fact they were 3-8-1 lifetime against the Russians (and the former Soviet Union) prior to Saturday's win. Also, the Russians and Americans had never played each other on Russian ice before.
The most important of those three victories occurred during the 1980 Winter Olympic semifinal. Coined the Miracle on Ice, and chosen as Sport's Illustrated's top sports' moment of the 20th century, the win catapulted the amateur U.S. Men's team past the defending Gold medalists.
While this game was anticipated, it seemed like every sports pundit mainly focused on covering the impending rematch with Team Canada more. They thought that the best game of the Olympic's would be Team Canada versus Team USA. After all, that game will be a rematch of the 2010 Olympic final, which Team Canada won thanks to Sidney Crosby's goal.
So how did the Americans beat the Russians? After all, the Russian offense is led by the three-headed monster that is Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk. Team USA simply played outstandingly. And the Americans continued to take advantage of the porous Russian defense. Luck also played a huge part in the victory as a goal from Fedor Tyutin was disallowed with 4:40 remaining in the third period because of an IIHF rule stating that: "If the goal net has been displaced from its normal position, or the frame of the goal net is not completely flat on the ice" then a goal shall not be allowed.
Before the goal was overturned, the pro-Russian crowd was ecstatic. After a gritty game, it looked like Team Russia would just have to wind down the clock. Now Russia is busy licking its wounds.
Watch the shootout here.
Do you think the American men can win the gold in Sochi? Or will Team Canada repeat as Olympic Champions? Let me know in the comments section below.