Olympic Hockey Nears Medal Rounds, USA to Play Canada

The United States men’s Olympic hockey team defeated its first four opponents, advancing to the semifinals to take on team Canada in a rematch of the gold medal game that happened four years ago in Vancouver.

Team USA began their Olympic campaign with a 7-1 victory over Slovakia, a 3-2 shootout win over Russia, and a 5-1 win over Slovenia. The highlight of the first three games for the gritty U.S. men’s hockey team was their dramatic victory over a Russian team loaded with superstars such as Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Ovechkin

The U.S., lead by captain Zach Parise, forced Russia into a shootout that lasted eight long rounds before the Russians were defeated. T.J. Oshie came up big for the U.S. by scoring four out of six shootout opportunities he was granted, including the game winner. Team USA’s goalie, Jonathan Quick, also came up clutch with some incredible shootout saves.

“Beating Russia definitely gave them a nice boost,” said Nick Proscia, 21.

Although the U.S. men’s hockey team had an exciting and rewarding first three games, it was difficult for many Ramapo students to catch the action live because of the time difference between Sochi, Russia and the U.S.

Ramapo junior Joe Vazza, 21, said, “I would have loved to watch more of the games live, but I’m not about to wake up at 7 a.m. to do it.”

The 5-2 quarterfinal victory over the Czech Republic, however, was much more convenient for Ramapo students and other Americans to watch as it was aired at noon on Wednesday.  The victory propels the U.S. to a semifinal matchup against a star-studded Canadian team who barely edged out Latvia, 2-1, in their respective quarterfinal game.

According to Newsday, the semifinal matchups will be aired on the NBC Sports Network on Friday, Feb. 21, which is channel 58.5 at Ramapo College.

The semifinal game in the men’s bracket will be a repeat of the women’s hockey final which will be aired on Thursday, Feb. 20 on the NBC Sports Network at noon. The U.S. women’s hockey team will also be facing Canada in the gold medal game after completing an impressive semifinal victory over Sweden, 6-1. The U.S. women lost to Canada in group play, and are looking to get revenge and take home the gold after earning silver in Vancouver in 2010. That year, they watched Canada skate away with the gold. 

The Canada men’s hockey team, lead by current Captain Sidney Crosby, took gold in the 2010 Olympics over the U.S. in overtime. The U.S., however, will have a chance for revenge in the semifinal matchup against a Canadian team that has looked shaky at times this Olympics. Finland took Canada to overtime before losing 2-1, and Canada barely squeaked by Latvia in the quarterfinals with a late third period goal to win 2-1. 

The U.S. men’s hockey team has been playing a tough, physical style of hockey and is seeking to knock off Canada in the semifinals to get its chance to earn its first gold medal since 1980.

Greg Pellis, 24, an avid U.S. hockey fan said, “With the way we’re playing, against the way they are playing, I like our chances.”