canada

Canada captures gold medal

Feb 26 • Hockey, Sports • 476

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As a hockey fan, I look forward to the Winter Olympics. The fact that we as hockey fans get the treat of seeing the world’s absolute best compete for their nations is something to really treasure.

These Olympics definitely didn’t disappoint, unless of course, you were cheering for the Team USA hockey.

The United States blew through the round robins, just before getting the chance to play Canada for the chance to play gold. If you watched that game, you would have thought it was the gold medal game.

It was definitely a classic USA vs. Canada matchup. Canada, knowingly with one of the strongest offensive teams, actually was just the opposite in the round robins. Team USA, which was stacked on defense, was also the opposite during the round robins, leading the tournament in offense.

However, when the two matched up, it was like both coaches completely changed each team’s game plan. Canada came out flying, getting most – if not all – of the scoring chances. Jonathan Quick was the only reason this game wasn’t a complete blowout and ended 1-0.

There were many stories behind this tournament though, many that people wouldn’t have picked up on. For starters, Latvia only losing to Canada by a goal was a shocker.

This was Latvia’s first ever Olympic appearance in hockey. Kristers Gudlesvskis, Latvia’s goalie, turned away 55 of 57 shots faced in the game. For getting outshot, 57-16, you would have thought this game was going to go a lot worse; however, Gudlesvskis had other plans.

Another shocker in the tournament for me was the United States’ own, Patrick Kane. Kane was essentially a no-show after his four-assist performance in the first game. The crafty forward, known for his dazzling behind-the-back passes and unreal hands, wasn’t even a factor for Team USA.

On the other hand, Phil “The Thrill” Kessel led the tournament in points playing for Team USA, who didn’t have much offense. The team was definitely looking for some scoring; maybe an offensive player like Bobby Ryan would have helped with the intensity?

Going along with the trend of players with bad performances, Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz – arguably the best 1-2 punch as linemates – didn’t produce any offense until the last two games.

Granted, while they didn’t give up many goals, I’m sure the Canadians still wanted a lot more offense out of them. Instead, Drew Doughty and Shea Weber exploded as tournament all-stars, posting unreal offense numbers and being huge contributors on the power play.

Sweden, which took home the silver, was simply playing sound offensive and defensive hockey. Erik Karlson was outstanding in his first Olympics, and even after losing Henrik Zetterberg, the Swedes were still able to pull out a victory and a silver medal.

Finland – well, where to start with them? They simply shocked everyone with one of the most diversely aged teams, defeating an offensive powerhouse like the USA for the bronze medal.

Team Finland’s Teemu Selanne and Jussi Jokenin were definitely among the best players for Finland. Rookie defensemen Olli Maata led the way on defense, even posting a few nice highlight-type goals.

The Olympics were a showcase of the most elite talent in the hockey world, and the Sochi 2014 games did not disappoint. Some players earned chances to play for NHL clubs, and others are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered and tattered games.

All in all, regardless of the outcome for your team, the Olympic hockey tournament was a spectacle that will be remembered for the next four years, until your nation has a shot at taking home the gold.

CONRAD THIBAULT

thibault001@knights.gannon.edu

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