The US Men’s Hockey Team came up victorious in its biggest match to date in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. One of the greatest rivalries in hockey certainly lived up to its billing with the US defeating Russia 3-2 in a thrilling overtime shootout. Hockey fans were eagerly anticipating this match up, and many set their alarms so that they could wake up for the early morning start time. The fans were not disappointed as the US team won the match-up of hockey powerhouses.
Both the US and Russian teams came into the game with 1-0 records. Russia is playing on home ice, has enormous pressure to win the gold, and is considered a co-favorite in the tournament, along with Team Canada. Adding to the Russians’ pressure, President Vladimir Putin was in attendance.
This match had just about everything a hockey fan could want. Both the US goalie, Jonathan Quick, and the Russian goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky, made spectacular saves. Patrick Kane had a breakaway attempt in overtime that would have ended the game, but it was turned aside. There was a controversial goal scored by Russia that was disallowed late in the third period that would have given the Russians a regulation win. The referee ruled that the US goalie had inadvertently knocked the net off its moorings, prior to the shot. Finally, there was a breath-taking shootout to decide the game.
In Olympic hockey, the shootout rules differ from the NHL rules. During the first three shots, a different player must shoot. For any shots needed afterward, the same player can continue to be used as the shooter. The US team took full advantage of this rule. TJ Oshie, added to the US team primarily because of his outstanding shootout skills, took 6 of the 8 shootout attempts for the US Team. He converted on 4 of 6, including the game winner.
Displaying class, Alexander Ovechkin, one of the Russian stars, recapped his team’s defeat:
Great hockey game. Both team show character. Unfortunately, somebody have to lose; somebody have to win. We have a chance to win, but they do a great job on the penalty shots. It is what it is.
The US team was predictably more excited about the outcome. One of the US bangers, David Backes, compared this game to the Gold Medal game in the Vancouver Olympics, that the US lost to Canada, in terms of its feeling of importance and emotion:
That one went the wrong way at the end, so it’s a bitter taste, but great hockey all of the way around. Again, this is what the Olympics is all about. It’s guys laying it all out there, having great performances, owning your moment. I think Oshie had a pretty nice moment today.
The US Hockey Team is now 2-0 and in the driver seat to secure a bye into the quarterfinals of the tournament if it wins its group. What do you think of the US Team’s chances of winning a gold medal at the Sochi Games?