So I didn’t want to write anything about the Men’s Olympic hockey team before the show got started. I knew I wasn’t holding high hopes with the likes of the roster that they had, yeah troy Terry and Ryan Zapolski will play in the NHL soon enough and should very well. Only a few names stuck out to me because I have seen these guys in the NHL before. Brian Gionta, who had recently retired after the 2017 season. Noah Welch who spent time in Pittsburgh for a short stint, and James Wisniewski who is remembered for his time in Carolina.
In the end, goaltending and lack of experience proved to be too much for USA. First you give up two 2 goal leads in two games and losing both in overtime, only beating Slovakia in the prelims and in the quarter final. They had chances to play well and just squandered them away. Even making the quarter finals was a shock to me period. I mean I know there were very few recognizable names in this years tourney. Still I hope that was the best they had to offer as a team, showing the NHL why we needs the stars of the game to play and represent their country. We can’t say anything about injury risk either, especially the last few weeks with players dropping down with significant injuries too. Although we could all assume Canada would’ve probably skated away with the gold.
Now we have four years to get this all fixed to see our best talent to represent the US. I think the game has evolved so much not to have NHL players in the games, equipment getting better and players getting bigger and stronger as well. Either way we will see what will happen in the coming years leading to the next games in 2022.
Now on the other hand I’d have to say the women’s team was just as heart wrenching as the men’s team. fortunate for us the restrictions on the NHL players weren’t held against the NWHL and CHL, the pro leagues for women. The women’s team has been stacked for the last two decades, (98 Nagano games gold medal) this year especially Keller, Kessel, Knight, Duggan, and the Lamoureux sisters.
The first game was against Finland which was a tough 3-1 win and a 5-0 drubbing of the Russian team, then a heart breaking 2-1 loss to Canada. It was definitely going to be a showdown between USA and Canada. With both teams having a bye in the first round the US team handled Finland and the Canadiens took care of the Russians, which left these two in the gold medal game. Now this was gonna beat an all out slug fest, with a 2nd meeting between the two power houses.
Now the game itself was definitely a physical one, one of the more physical games I’ve seen in a while. The US capitalized on a power play opportunity at the end of the first with a deflection in front. Now the US did get spotted quite a few questionable calls getting the first few power plays early in the game. Now the Canadian Ladies made a good come back in the 2nd period scoring 2 goals in the period to take a 2-1 lead in the 3rd period. Late in the 3rd period with about 4 minutes left Monique Lamoureux tied it at 2 going into overtime.
Now here is where I think this is a fail for hockey, okay, I liked the 4 on 4 overtime period a lot of ice to cover and use, but the shootout after the OT period is not cool at all. Now we are in the GOLD MEDAL GAME, okay, the Championship for the best in the world, you gotta let them play. I want to see who’s got the heart to keep digging deep and going for it all. Unlike the NHL who keeps playing 5 on 5 till someone scores in the playoffs. I’m okay with the shootout in the quarters or semi’s, but not the Gold medal game. Yes there is a lot of skill required to perform in the shootout but that to me isn’t the right way to win a gold medal.
With that being said, Maddie Rooney is only 20 years old and backstopped the team to the win and gold medal. She was only 7 months old when the 98 team won the gold. Amanda Kessel sister of Phil Kessel, and Jocelyn Lamoureux performed very well in the shootout. Lamoureux pulled the nastiest deke I’ve ever seen…………. and Rooney made the save right after that to seal the deal for the gold.
As I knew that the ladies of Canada and USA would meet in the final it’s not what I predicted, I know what was I thinking. Overall the men’s tourney was evenly matched and clearly not as exciting as I wanted to be. The women’s tourney was a waiting game till the end and was clearly an instant classic. Now we go back till the World Cup, but more importantly the push for the playoffs and the Stanley Cup.
Image credit: International Olympic Committee