By: Robert Jamieson
For hailing myself as one of the bigger hockey fans around, I am ashamed to say that I missed the first two periods of the epic USA vs. Russia game Saturday morning.
Waking up groggy and disoriented, I stumbled over to my neighbor’s room and was able to catch some of the best hockey I have seen in a long time.
In a thrilling third period, San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski gave the U.S. a 2-1 lead with a wicked one-timer. Russia, however, would not go down without a fight in front of the raucous home crowd.
Just minutes later, Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings notched his second goal of the game to tie the score at two. After the referees reversed a goal that gave the Russians the lead and a scoreless overtime period, the game headed to a shootout.
If you hadn’t heard of T.J. Oshie before this game, there is a good chance that you have now.
Behind Oshie’s four goals in the shootout, USA defeated Russia to essentially clinch Group A and a first-round bye in the elimination round.
Although one could argue this game was essentially meaningless, the players on the ice seemed to think otherwise.
I usually don’t believe in statement games, but USA’s victory did not go unnoticed. USA moves onto the elimination round with the No. 2 seed overall, a first round bye and the confidence that they can skate with anyone in the world, something that was seriously in question before these games started.
With injuries to Sweden and a lackluster performance so far from Canada, many believe that the U.S. should be considered the favorite to take home the gold.
The U.S. will take the ice next Wednesday morning in the quarterfinals against the winner of Slovakia and Czech Republic.
Other winter competitions have also been stellar this week during Sochi 2014. The biggest stories, or at least the events that I have been watching, have come from the men’s and women’s downhill skiing and the ice dancing competitions.
In the women’s Super-G, the story of the skiers who didn’t finish overshadowed the story of those who did.
In extremely warm conditions, 18 of the 49 skiers could not finish their runs. In the men’s Super-G, two Americans stole the show.
Andrew Weibrecht, whose struggles since the 2010 winter games made him a long shot in these games, grabbed a silver medal with one of the best rides of his life.
American Bode Miller became the oldest Alpine medalist in Olympic history at 36 years old. Miller had much more on his mind, however. Miller dedicated the race and the bronze medal to his younger brother who died this past April.
During a very emotional post-race interview, Miller shed some tears as he expressed how much the medal meant to him.
This week also gave us the United States’ first ever gold medal in ice dancing. Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White began skating together 17 years ago, and the symmetry, speed and power of their skating is awe-inspiring.
On Monday morning, they defeated their training partners, rivals and defending gold medal champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada with an overall score of 195.52.
After two weeks, the United States is tied for first in the medal count with Russia at 18 and are currently fourth place in total gold medals with five.