Friday, February 19, 2010

USA Hockey 2-0; Canada Next

The US Olympic hockey team made it two-for-two Thursday afternoon with a resounding 6-1 victory over Norway to move to 2-0 in the round robin format.

As was the case in the 3-1 victory over Switzerland on Tuesday, the US struck early on Thursday, as Phil Kessel (U. of Minnesota, Toronto Maple Leafs) scored just 2:39 into the game. Chris Drury (Boston U., New York Rangers) made it 2-0 just over ten minutes later to give the US a two-goal lead heading into the first intermission.

The Americans struck just once in the second with Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks) converting. In the third period, the US broke open a 3-1 game with three tallies to close things out, as Ryan Malone (St. Cloud State U., Tampa Bay Lightning), Brian Rafalski (U. of Wisconsin, Detroit Red Wings), and Rafalski again tallied. In all, twelve different Yanks notched points in the game.

Ryan Miller (Michigan State, Buffalo Sabres) faced only 11 shots in the game and turned aside 10 of them.

A matchup against Canada looms for the US in prime time on Sunday night. The host Canucks are loaded but are beatable in a one-game format. The US can show a little of what it's made of on Sunday night, but hopefully won't show too much before the medal round begins next week.

As I've written here before, I like the composition of this team. GM Brian Burke has rid the US program of the "old guard" with the likes of Mike Modano, Jeremy Roenick, Mike Richter, and Bill Guerin who won the inaugural World Cup back in 1996 and headlined the international competition for the next decade. This year's Olympic squad is young, fast, and exciting, but is a heavy underdog going into this weekend's tilt against Canada. Sunday will be a fine test for this young squad.

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