|By Ravi Brammer,
Special to SochiPhotos.com
USA vs Canada Men’s Hockey Semi-final
USA vs Finland Bronze Medal Game
|No, this isn’t the 1980 Miracle on Ice team that won the Gold Medal against all odds. This was the 2014 U.S. Men’s hockey team that defeated a star studded Russian team 3-2 in shootouts on their home ice.
You really can’t compare the 1980 team to this current group. The 1980 team was a collection of college players brought together under the stewardship of Herb Brooks, the University of Minnesota head hockey coach.
The roster of America’s new bunch of hockey heroes has all stars and Stanley Cup winners sprinkled all over it. That doesn’t mean there weren’t concerns. Many of the key defensemen who would be called upon to stop the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin were making their Olympic debuts. Goaltending was also a question mark. Starting goalie Jonathan Quick, one year removed from winning the Stanley Cup with the LA Kings, wasn’t having the best year in net and backup Ryan Miller, the 2010 U.S Olympic starting goaltender, plays for what is arguably the worst team in the NHL.
Very few pundits gave the U.S. a chance to medal in the games. The team went into game against the Russians on Saturday as heavy underdogs. After all, there was no Sidney Crosby or Jonathan Toews on this team. No Pavel Datsuk. No Erik Karlsson, the Swedish all world defenseman. No Henrik Lundquist or Tukka Rask. What this team did have was chemistry and the ability to score. It was immediate and it was put on show in their first game, a 7-1 victory over the hapless Slovakian team.
In the game against the Russians the young defense was able to hold the Russians to two goals and force overtime. This led to the shootout which has made T.J. Oshie a household name around the States. A rock star. If there was any doubt about the ability of social media to make someone look no further. Following the game Oshie has picked up hundreds of thousands of new Twitter followers. People who were complete strangers to hockey, who didn’t know what icing was, can now tell you that Oshie’s a forward for the St. Louis Blues.
So what’s next for the team? They have earned the second seed and a bye into the quarterfinal round. They face the winner of the Czech Republic and Slovakia on Wednesday with a possible matchup in the semifinals against the defending Gold Medal winning Canadians. Keep it going boys. We’re behind you.