Archive for OG – United States

Miller Is Certainly Most Valuable

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United States goaltender RYAN MILLER (39) skates off after the opening day victory over Switzerland at the 2010 Winter Olympics from Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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It should have come as no surprise that United States goaltender RYAN MILLER of the Buffalo Sabres finished the 2010 Winter Olympics as the netminder with the top save percentage (for those having made at least fifty saves) at the Vancouver Games :

  • 94.56 % — 139 sv —   8 go — Ryan MILLER — United States
  • 93.57 % — 131 sv —   9 go — Tomas VOKOUN — Czech Republic
  • 92.73 % —   51 sv —   4 go — Henrik LUNDQVIST — Sweden
  • 92.68 % — 114 sv —   9 go — Roberto LUONGO — Canada
  • 91.82 % — 146 sv — 13 go — Jonas HILLER — Switzerland
  • 91.36 % —   74 sv —   7 go — Andrei MEZIN — Belarus
  • 91.05 % — 173 sv — 17 go — Jaroslav HALAK — Slovakia
  • 90.59 % —   77 sv —   8 go — Vitali KOVAL — Belarus

Miller started all six games and played all but eleven minutes and thirty-one seconds of the entire Olympic schedule for the U.S. national team in Vancouver. The former Michigan State University All-America posted one shutout and a sparkling 1.35 goals-against-average at the Olympic tournament, as well. Indeed, the Directorate of the International Ice Hockey Federation selected the American for the Best Goaltender award.

More importantly — and most deservedly — the 29-year-old was chosen as the Most Valuable Player of the ice hockey tournament at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

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Canada 3 – United States 2 : Gold Medal Match Report

The victorious bench clears moments after SIDNEY CROSBY's overtime goal gives Canada a dramatic 3-2 decision over the United States in the Gold Medal Game of the ice hockey tournament at the 2010 Winter Olympics from Vancouver, Canada. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

The victorious bench clears moments after SIDNEY CROSBY's overtime goal gives Canada a dramatic 3-2 decision over the United States in the Gold Medal Game of the ice hockey tournament at the 2010 Winter Olympics from Vancouver, Canada. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

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And so, for the second time the past three Winter Olympiad, the final would again be contested by the two North American rivals. As had been the case at Salt Lake City eight years ago, continental neighbors CANADA and the UNITED STATES would compete in the Gold Medal Game for the right to be crowned the Olympic champion for the 2010. Another genuine border war for the Olympic final - which would make television executives and their sponsors in both participating countries smile, if nothing else.

The United States, despite fielding a young and inexperienced squad, matured quickly in Vancouver and benefited from magnificent, if not timely, goaltending from RYAN MILLER all tournament. Confidence cruised at a comfortable altitude for the U.S. squad, particularly in light of the blitzkrieg of Finland at the semi-final hurdle. And, of course, the Americans had already conquered the Canadians in the round-robin at the Vancouver Games.

For Canada, anything less than a gold medal in ice hockey for an Olympic tournment held in the Great White North will always be viewed by the citizenry as a terrible disappointment.

The loss to the United States, on the heels of a close shave with Switzerland, very much shook a sleeping giant. Canada changed goaltenders after the American misadventure as the future Hall of Fame member MARTIN BRODEUR was replaced by the lone Vancouver Canuck player on the Olympic host nation’s roster, ROBERTO LUONGO. A rout of Germany resulted and was followed by the relatively-easy victory over Russia — Canada had found its form.

Still, in spite of the earlier round-robin setback, Canada continued to hold an overwhelming historical record of 56 wins, 9 losses with four ties against the Americans at major international events entering the Gold Medal Game in Vancouver.

The ingredients for an epic clash had been sufficently collected and the game itself certainly did not disappoint.

to be continued…

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CANADA 3 – UNITED STATES 2 — (overtime)

Shots-on-goal :  Canada 39 – United States 36

CAN goals :  Toews, Perry, Crosby 

USA goals :  Kesler, Parise

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Canada forward SIDNEY CROSBY (87) of the Pittsburgh Penquins and United States defenseman TIM GLEASON (4) of the Carolina Hurricanes cross paths at center ice before the start of the Gold Medal Game of the 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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Professional relationships mean nothing at the Winter Games, particularly with the Olympic gold medal at stake. Here, Canada defenseman DAN BOYLE (22) of the San Jose Sharks is effectively boarded by his National Hockey League teammate, United States forward JOE PAVELSKI, in the Olympic final at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Professional relationships mean nothing at the Winter Games, particularly with the Olympic gold medal at stake. Here, Canada defenseman DAN BOYLE (22) of the San Jose Sharks is effectively boarded by his National Hockey League teammate, United States forward JOE PAVELSKI, in the Olympic final at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Another angle of the American Pavelski (16) pounding the Canadian Boyle (22) into the boards in the Gold Medal Game of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

Another angle of the American Pavelski (16) pounding the Canadian Boyle (22) into the boards in the Gold Medal Game of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

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United States forward JOE PAVELSKI (16), a former University of Wisconsin player, upends Canada’s star forward SIDNEY CROSBY (87) in front of the Olympic host nation’s bench at the 2010 Vancouver Games. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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Canada’s DANY HEATLEY (15), a one-time University of Wisconsin Badger, is headed for a seat on the American bench as United States defenseman BROOKS ORPIK (44), a native of San Francisco and a former Boston College player, observes in the Gold Medal Game at Canada Hockey Place. (Reuters photo)

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The Pittsburgh Penquin Orpik (44) remains on hand to ensure the Canadian Heatley enjoys a generous helping of American hospitality on the San Jose Shark’s visit to the United States bench during the Gold Medal Game of the 2010 Winter Olympics from Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)  

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United States forward RYAN KESLER (17) of the Olympic host city's Vancouver Canucks checks the host nation's star player, SIDNEY CROSBY (87) of the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penquins, into the boards in a bid for the puck at Canada Hockey Place. Both players would register their names on the scoresheet of the Gold Medal Game at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. (Matt Slocum/AP)

United States forward RYAN KESLER (17) of the Olympic host city's Vancouver Canucks checks the host nation's star player, SIDNEY CROSBY (87) of the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penquins, into the boards in a bid for the puck at Canada Hockey Place. Both players would register their names on the scoresheet of the Gold Medal Game at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. (Matt Slocum/AP)

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Canada were never prepared to have the United States push them around on home ice in the Gold Medal Game from Vancouver. Here, Canada's DANY HEATLEY (15) delivers a forearm to the face of United States defenseman JACK JOHNSON (3) of the Los Angeles Kings at Canada Hockey Place. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Canada were never prepared to have the United States push them around on home ice in the Gold Medal Game from Vancouver. Here, Canada's DANY HEATLEY (15) delivers a forearm to the face of United States defenseman JACK JOHNSON (3) of the Los Angeles Kings at Canada Hockey Place. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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Canada defenseman BRENT SEABROOK (7), Chicago Black Hawks personnel indigenous to British Columbia, shoves United States forward BOBBY RYAN (54) at the boards in the Gold Medal Game at the Vancouver Games. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images) 

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Canada's COREY PERRY (24) of the Anaheim Ducks deals a knock on the back of the neck for United States forward DUSTIN BROWN (32) of the Los Angeles Kings right in front of the American bench during the Gold Medal Game of the Vancouver Games. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Canada's COREY PERRY (24) of the Anaheim Ducks deals a knock on the back of the neck for United States forward DUSTIN BROWN (32) of the Los Angeles Kings right in front of the American bench during the Gold Medal Game of the Vancouver Games. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Canadian forward RYAN GETZLAFF (51) gets the better of American defenseman BRIAN RAFALSKI (28) during the championship match of the 2010 Winter Olympics from Canada Hockey Place. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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The linesmen move to get between Canada’s RYAN GETZLAFF (51) of the Anaheim Ducks and United States defenseman JACK JOHNSON (3) as Getzlaff’s National Hockey League teammate, Canada’s CORREY PERRY (24), ponders the situation. On hand for the U.S. are defenseman BROOKS ORPIK (44) as well as the two New York Rangers, RYAN CALLAHAN (24) and CHRIS DRURY (23), as the rush for gold continues at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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The on-ice officials at Vancouver were always going to have their hands full maintaining good order with the clash of North American neighbors in the Gold Medal Game at Canada Hockey Place. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images) 

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The United States quite literally came closest to scoring first --- Canada goaltender ROBERTO LUONGO starts the close shave with the save from American forward DUSTIN BROWN (32), who is dumped by his sliding NHL squadmate, defenseman DREW DOUGHTY (8) of the Los Angeles Kings in the Gold Medal Game at the Vancouver Olympics. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

The United States quite literally came closest to scoring first --- Canada goaltender ROBERTO LUONGO starts the close shave with the save from American forward DUSTIN BROWN (32), who is dumped by his sliding NHL squadmate, defenseman DREW DOUGHTY (8) of the Los Angeles Kings in the Gold Medal Game at the Vancouver Olympics. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

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Another angle for the collision of Kings involving the American attacker Brown (32) and the Canadian Doughty (8) at the side of the net as the goaltender Luongo looks to reign in the loose puck. Arriving on the scene is the eventual savior of a dangerous situation, Canadian defenseman DUNCAN KEITH (2), who will soon clear the puck off his own goal line. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Canada did, in fact, score first — at the far right of the frame, Canadian forward JONATHAN TOEWS (16) of the Chicago Black Hawksv collects a rebound off of the stick of Philadelphia Flyers forward MIKE RICHARDS (18) and tests the skills of United States goalie RYAN MILLER of the Buffalo Sabres (39) at Canada Hockey Place. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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The shot of Toews has beaten Miller and is headed top shelf to give host nation Canada a 1-0 lead in Vancouver. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images) 

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The puck, having beaten Miller for the crucial first goal of the 2010 Gold Medal Game from Vancouver, falls to the ice just inside the post on the right side at Canada Hockey Place. Looking on are United States defenseman ERIK JOHNSON (6) of the St. Louis Blues as well as the American captain, JAMIE LANGENBRUNNER (15) of the New Jersey Devils. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) 

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From a Canadian perspective, the Chicago Black Hawk Toews has certainly picked a fine time to find the back of the net for his first goal of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Toews (16), an NCAA champion at the University of North Dakota in 2006, raises his stick after beating Miller (39), a two-time NCAA titlist at Michigan State University, as the referee moves to signal the opening goal of the Gold Medal Game at the Vancouver Olympics. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Struggling to maintain balance, Toews (16) still moves to celebrate his monstrous goal in the Olympic final from Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Chicago Black Hawks defenseman DUNCAN KEITH (2) taps his NHL teammate, JONATHAN TOEWS (16) on the helmet as an ever-expectant host nation makes some noise following the first goal of the Gold Medal Game at Canada Hockey Place. (Harry How/Getty Images) 

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United States 6 – Finland 1 : Match Report

United States forward RYAN MALONE (12) is jubilant just after the third American goal inside the first ten minutes of the semifinal match at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Malone had opened the scoring after an egregious error by Finland netminder MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF just two minutes in. Here, Kiprusoff (34) and Finnish defenseman SAMI SALO look back at the puck in the net at Canada Hockey Place. (Jeff Vinnick/HHOF-IIHF Images)

United States forward RYAN MALONE (12) is jubilant just after the third American goal inside the first ten minutes of the semifinal match at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Malone had opened the scoring after an egregious error by Finland netminder MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF just two minutes in. Here, Kiprusoff (34) and Finnish defenseman SAMI SALO look back at the puck in the net at Canada Hockey Place. (Jeff Vinnick/HHOF-IIHF Images)

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Six goals scored in the first thirteen minutes of the match by the UNITED STATES quite literally doomed FINLAND from the start in the semifinals of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games ice hockey tournament at Vancouver.

“Losing like this, it’s tough,” Finnish star forward TEEMU SELANNE of the Anaheim Ducks declared after the match. “It’s something you don’t want to experience. I have no words. It’s just unbelievable.”

The eventual silver medalist United States shot six goals past Finland in the second period fifty-eight years ago on the way to an 8-2 victory at the Oslo Games in 1952, but the Finns were making only their Olympic debut back at that time. The Finnish roster certainly did not boast the number of crack National Hockey League players as it does these days. And, the chance to compete for the Olympic gold medal had not been directly at stake.

What’s more, Finland’s veteran goaltender, MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF, is rightfully considered to be one the best in the NHL, if not the world. Among the honors the 33-year-old has collected in his career include the hallowed Vezina Trophy, which is awarded annually to the league’s best goaltender. And, the Calgary Flames star puckstopper entered the semifinal match for Finland against the United States posting the best save percentage at the Vancouver Games.

Thus, the six-goal outburst certainly produced a great measure of shock at Canada Hockey Place, if not around the globle.   

It was Kiprusoff, who, after having come far out of his goal crease, kicked off the calamity all by himself. With American forward PHIL KESSEL of the Toronto Maple Leafs approaching, the Finland goaltender inadvertantly passed the puck straight to United States forward RYAN MALONE of the Pittsburgh Penquins. The former Saint Cloud State (Minnesota) skater made no mistake with the net left wide open and maximized the gift to give the U.S. a quick lead after just two minutes.  

A couple of early penalties also did the Finns no favors.

Six and a half minutes in, United States forward ZACH PARISE of the New Jersey Devils profited from a fine goalmouth pass from PAUL STASTNY of the Colorado Avalanche while on the power play; Parise, who scored both American goals in the quarterfinal victory over Switzerland, fired the puck past Kiprusoff to double the advantage.  

Just past the eight and a half minute mark, the Americans scored again with the man advantage. St. Louis Blues defenseman ERIK JOHNSON picked up the puck in the right faceoff circle after forward JOE PAVELSKI of the San Jose Sharks had been stopped at the left side of the net and shot past a scrambling Kiprusoff for a 3-0 United States scoreboard read.

Clearly, the normally-reliable Kiprusoff was rattled and beyond repair, as well. The Chicago Black Hawks’ PATRICK KANE delivered the knockout blow at 10:08 of the first period. After starting the play with a wrist shot from the lower left circle, the 21-year-old U.S. forward collected the loose puck in the slot and went to the right for the backhand finish which ended Kiprusoff’s afternoon.

With just three saves from the first seven United States shots, not-so-hot Calgary Flames keeper made the long skate to the Finnish bench almost immediately after Kane scored.

And so, Minnesota Wild goalie NIKLAS BACKSTROM went in front of net for Finland — but the situation still would not settle for coach JUKKA JALONEN’s men.

Still only twelve and a half minutes into the match, Kane confronted Finland’s substitute puck stopper on the rush and promptly wristed a shot from the right circle past Backstrom’s blocker for a staggering 5-0 United States scoreline; for the American forward, the first overall draft choice of the 2007 NHL Draft from the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, it was his third goal of the 2010 Vancouver Games.  

Exactly fifteen seconds later, the American count swelled to six.

Stastny, in the slot, took a sweet pass from United States captain JAMIE LANGENBRUNNER of the New Jersey Devils and popped the puck over the glove of Backstrom into the corner of the net to perpetuate the slaughter.

Technically speaking, there was a little more than 47 minutes of Olympic hockey still to be played at Canada Hockey Place between the United States and Finland in Vancouver, but in all reality, the semifinal result was already wrapped up. 

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UNITED STATES 6 – FINLAND 1

Shots-on-goal :  United States 25 – Finland 25

USA goals :  Kane 2, Malone, Parise, E. Johnson, Stastny

FIN goals :  Miettinen

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United States forward PHIL KESSEL (81) of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates past Finland netminder MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF of the Calgary Flames, who is far from his goalcrease. Kiprusoff has just passed to the puck to the not-pictured Pittsburgh Penquins forward RYAN MALONE, who, of course, plays for Kiprusoff’s opponent, the United States. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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With the goal unguarded, Kiprusoff scrambles to deal with the deplorable situation just two minutes into the Olympic semifinals in Vancouver. Up to this point, Kiprusoff had been solid as a rock in Finland’s net having allowed just four goals while saving 71 of 75 shots (94.67%) in three games before facing the United States. (Harry How/Getty Images)  

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Kiprusoff (34) looks back to see the shot of United States forward RYAN MALONE (12), directly in front of the Finnish netminder, head across Finland’s goal line as the former University of Minnesota star Kessel gazes on at Canada Hockey Place. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) 

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The United States have taken an early 1-0 lead thanks to the tragic play of the Finland goaltender Kiprusoff. The American forward Kessel (81) looks on at the side of net as Malone prepares for a hug in the slot. Meanwhile, on the other side of the goal, Finnish defenseman JANNE NISKALA (21) of Swedish club HC Vastra Frolunda Goteborg can only stare at the puck in the back of Finland’s cage. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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The United States forward Kessel (81) joins JOE PAVELSKI (16) of the San Jose Sharks in saluting Malone (12) for his goal which jolts Finland just two minutes into the Olympic semifinal at the 2010 Winter Games from Vancouver. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

The United States forward Kessel (81) joins JOE PAVELSKI (16) of the San Jose Sharks in saluting Malone (12) for his goal which jolts Finland just two minutes into the Olympic semifinal at the 2010 Winter Games from Vancouver. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

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UNITED STATES forward ZACH PARISE (9) shoots on Finnish goaltender MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF (34) roughly six and a half minutes into the game on the power play. At the side of the net is U.S. forward PAUL STASTNY (26); hooked in the slot by Finnish defenseman SAMI SALO (6) is American attacker JAMIE LANGENBRUNNER (15), the captain of the United States Olympic team in Vancouver. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)===========================================================================

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The former University of North Dakota All-America and current New Jersey Devil, Parise, confronts the former Vezina Trophy winner of the Calgary Flames, Kiprusoff. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Stastny (26), at the side of the net, supervises as the Finnish netminder Kiprusoff tries in vain to stop the shot of Parise (9) with his goalstick. Stastny had created the chance for Parise with an excellent goulmouth pass. (Harry How/Getty Images) 

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Parise's third goal of the Vancouver Games gives the United States an early, albeit surprising, 2-0 lead against Finland in the semifinals at the 2010 Winter Olympics. The goal is Parise's eighth career for the United States at a major international event. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

Parise's third goal of the Vancouver Games gives the United States an early, albeit surprising, 2-0 lead against Finland in the semifinals at the 2010 Winter Olympics. The goal is Parise's eighth career for the United States at a major international event. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

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United States forward RYAN MALONE (12), in front, watches the shot of defenseman ERIK JOHNSON (6), far left, whip past Finnish goalie MIIKA KIPRUSOFF (34) for a 3-0 American advantage roughly eight and a half minutes into the Winter Olympic semifinals at Canada Hockey Place. (Hans Deryk/Getty Images) 

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Kiprusoff inspects the damage — a third goal conceded just 8:36 into the contest. The Finnish netminder had come into the semifinals against the United States with the top save percentage for goaltenders (with more than one game) at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)  

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One former University of Minnesota player, U.S. forward PHIL KESSEL (81), celebrates the goal of another, the not-picutred St. Louis Blues defenseman ERIK JOHNSON as Finnish defenseman SAMI SALO (6) stands stunned in the goal crease. Malone (12) and Pavelski (16) prepare to revel for the Americans while VALTTERI FILPPULA (51) is left to reflect for Finland. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

One former University of Minnesota player, U.S. forward PHIL KESSEL (81), celebrates the goal of another, the not-picutred St. Louis Blues defenseman ERIK JOHNSON as Finnish defenseman SAMI SALO (6) stands stunned in the goal crease. Malone (12) and Pavelski (16) prepare to revel for the Americans while VALTTERI FILPPULA (51) is left to reflect for Finland. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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The Carolina Hurricanes’ 2005 first round selection (# 3 overall) from the University of Michigan, defenseman JACK JOHNSON (3) of the Los Angeles Kings, congratulates his blueline buddy, the St. Louis Blues’ 2006 first round selection (# 1 overall) from the University of Minnesota, ERIK JOHNSON (6), after the United States opened up a quick 3-0 lead on Finland in the semifinals. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) 

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United States forward PATRICK KANE (88) backhands the black disc behind Finnish goalkeeper MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF for an astounding fourth American goal ten minutes and eight seconds into the Olympic semifinal match at the 2010 Vancouver Games. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

United States forward PATRICK KANE (88) backhands the black disc behind Finnish goalkeeper MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF for an astounding fourth American goal ten minutes and eight seconds into the Olympic semifinal match at the 2010 Vancouver Games. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

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The puck is behind Kiprusoff in the cage of Finland once again, courtesy the backhand of Chicago Black Hawks star Kane. (Getty Images photo)

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The carnage contines as the Finns are shell shocked at the semifinal stage in Vancouver’s Canada Hockey Place. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Kane, the number one overall pick by the Black Hawks at the NHL Draft in 2007, fashions a face after giving the United States a 4-0 lead barely past the halfway point of the first period. (Hans Deryk/Reuters)

Kane, the number one overall pick by the Black Hawks at the NHL Draft in 2007, fashions a face after giving the United States a 4-0 lead barely past the halfway point of the first period. (Hans Deryk/Reuters)

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New York Rangers forward OLLI JOKINEN (12) looks for a seat as Finland’s starting goaltender, MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF (34), climbs over the boards after the fourth U.S. goal. Kiprusoff skated straight to the bench almost immediately after Kane scored on the backhand. Still with his baseball hat on, back-up goalie NIKLAS BACKSTROM (33) of the Minnesota Wild prepares to enter the fray for Finland. (Reuters photo)

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United States forward PATRICK KANE (88) welcomes Finnish goaltender NIKLAS BACKSTROM (33) to the semifinals of the 2010 Winter Games with a goal, his second of the match as Finland defenseman SAMI LEPISTO (18) of the Phoenix Coyotes looks away in Vancouver. (Shaun Best/Reuters)

United States forward PATRICK KANE (88) welcomes Finnish goaltender NIKLAS BACKSTROM (33) to the semifinals of the 2010 Winter Games with a goal, his second of the match as Finland defenseman SAMI LEPISTO (18) of the Phoenix Coyotes looks away in Vancouver. (Shaun Best/Reuters)

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The Black Hawk, Kane, lets out another war cry after scoring his second goal of the game against the newest Finnish netminder, Backstrom, to bring the score to 5-0 for the United States in the semifinals at Canada Hockey Place. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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United States skaters RYAN SUTER (20), DUSTIN BROWN (32) and RYAN KESLER (17) circle around the goal-scorer Kane behind Backstrom and the Finland net in Vancouver. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

United States skaters RYAN SUTER (20), DUSTIN BROWN (32) and RYAN KESLER (17) circle around the goal-scorer Kane behind Backstrom and the Finland net in Vancouver. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

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United States forward PETER STASTNY (26) beats Finland goaltender NIKLAS BACKSTROM to the glove side while being hooked by Finnish forward TUOMO RUUTU (15) of the Carolina Hurricanes in the semifinals at the 2010 Winter Olympics from Vancouver. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

United States forward PETER STASTNY (26) beats Finland goaltender NIKLAS BACKSTROM to the glove side while being hooked by Finnish forward TUOMO RUUTU (15) of the Carolina Hurricanes in the semifinals at the 2010 Winter Olympics from Vancouver. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

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The former University of Denver skater Stastny, who was born in Quebec City, scores his first goal for the United States at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Paul’s father, Peter, competed for Czechoslovakia at the 1980 Games in Lake Placid and at the 1994 Lillehammer Games for the new nation of Slovakia. In between, Peter Stastny, who was a long-time star for the Quebec Nordiques in the National Hockey League, represented Canada at the 1984 Canada Cup. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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PETER STASTNY (26) signals an astonishing 6th goal for the United States with just under 13 minutes played in the first Olympic semifinal at the 2010 Winter Games. Behind Stastny is Finnish defenseman SAMI SALO (6) of the host city's Vancouver Canucks. Stastny's goal was his fifth for the U.S. at a major international tournament. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

PETER STASTNY (26) signals an astonishing 6th goal for the United States with just under 13 minutes played in the first Olympic semifinal at the 2010 Winter Games. Behind Stastny is Finnish defenseman SAMI SALO (6) of the host city's Vancouver Canucks. Stastny's goal was his fifth for the U.S. at a major international tournament. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

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After the six-goal onslaught, all that was left to do for the United States was play sound, defense-first hockey. Here, Finland's all-time leader with 50 goals at major international tournaments, TEEMU SELANNE (8) of the Anaheim Ducks, is checked by his southern California NHL rival of the Los Angeles Kings, American defenseman JACK JOHNSON (3). Selanne was held off the scoresheet by the U.S. and remained goal-less at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. (Matt Slocum/AP)

After the six-goal onslaught, all that was left to do for the United States was play sound, defense-first hockey. Here, Finland's all-time leader with 50 goals at major international tournaments, TEEMU SELANNE (8) of the Anaheim Ducks, is checked by his southern California NHL rival of the Los Angeles Kings, American defenseman JACK JOHNSON (3). Selanne was held off the scoresheet by the U.S. and remained goal-less at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. (Matt Slocum/AP)

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The Finnish Flash Selanne (8) is chased by United States defenseman RYAN SUTER (20) of the Nashville Predators as U.S. netminder RYAN MILLER (39) defends against the wrap-around. After taking a 6-0 lead, the United States had no urgent need to press the attack. Finland outshot the Americans 21-12 over the final two periods and finished even with the U.S. in that category for the game. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

The Finnish Flash Selanne (8) is chased by United States defenseman RYAN SUTER (20) of the Nashville Predators as U.S. netminder RYAN MILLER (39) defends against the wrap-around. After taking a 6-0 lead, the United States had no urgent need to press the attack. Finland outshot the Americans 21-12 over the final two periods and finished even with the U.S. in that category for the game. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

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As he has been throughout the tournament, the American goaltender Miller was prepared to deliver saves when called upon against Finland in the semifinals at the Winter Olympics from Vancouver. (Reuters photo)

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Two Ryans, American defenseman Suter (20) and goaltender Miller, both reconnoiter the progress of the puck in mid-air in the Olympic semifinals at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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United States goaltender RYAN MILLER (39) of the Buffalo Sabres is replaced at 8:29 of the third period by TIM THOMAS (30) of the Boston Bruins with Americans still leading 6-0 in the Olympic semifinals at Canada Hockey Place. Up to this point, Miller has played every minute of every U.S. match at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Thomas, 35, is a veteran of four seasons in the Finnish elite league for the IFK Helsinki, Karpat Oulu and Jokerit Helsinki clubs. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

United States goaltender RYAN MILLER (39) of the Buffalo Sabres is replaced at 8:29 of the third period by TIM THOMAS (30) of the Boston Bruins with Americans still leading 6-0 in the Olympic semifinals at Canada Hockey Place. Up to this point, Miller has played every minute of every U.S. match at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Thomas, 35, is a veteran of four seasons in the Finnish elite league for the IFK Helsinki, Karpat Oulu and Jokerit Helsinki clubs. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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United States forward RYAN CALLAHAN of the New York Rangers rams Finland forward TUOMO RUUTU (15) of the Carolina Hurricanes right in front of the Finnish bench in the semifinals at the Winter Olympics. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) 

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United States forward DAVID BACKES (42) of the St. Louis Blues introduces Finland defenseman JONI PITKANEN (25) of the Carolina Hurricanes to the plexiglass at Canada Hockey Place in the Olympic semifinals from Vancouver. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

United States forward DAVID BACKES (42) of the St. Louis Blues introduces Finland defenseman JONI PITKANEN (25) of the Carolina Hurricanes to the plexiglass at Canada Hockey Place in the Olympic semifinals from Vancouver. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

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The Finnish defenseman Pitkanen receives an Olympic-sized stick upside the head from United States forward RYAN MALONE (12) along the boards in Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Finnish defenseman Pitkanen receives an Olympic-sized stick upside the head from United States forward RYAN MALONE (12) along the boards in Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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United States defenseman BRIAN RAFALSKI (28) flips Finnish forward VALTTERI FIPPULA (51) in pursuit of the puck at the Olympic semifinals in Vancouver. Both Filippula and Rafalski skate professionally for the Detroit Red Wings in the National Hockey League. (Matt Slocum/AP)

United States defenseman BRIAN RAFALSKI (28) flips Finnish forward VALTTERI FIPPULA (51) in pursuit of the puck at the Olympic semifinals in Vancouver. Both Filippula and Rafalski skate professionally for the Detroit Red Wings in the National Hockey League. (Matt Slocum/AP)

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United States defenseman ERIK JOHNSON (6) of the St. Louis Blues and Finland forward VALTTERI FILPPULA (51) of the Detroit Red Wings meet face-to-face along the decorative boards in Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

United States defenseman ERIK JOHNSON (6) of the St. Louis Blues and Finland forward VALTTERI FILPPULA (51) of the Detroit Red Wings meet face-to-face along the decorative boards in Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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United States forward RYAN KESLER (17) of the Olympic host city’s Vancouver Canucks contains Finland forward TUOMO RUUTU(15) of the Carolina Hurricanes at the boards in the Olympic semifinals from Vancouver. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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United States forward DUSTIN BROWN (32) of the Los Angeles Kings finishes his check opposite Finland forward JARKKO IMMONEN (62) of Russian club Avangard Omsk in the semfinals at the Vancouver Olympic Games. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Finland assistant captain TEEMU SELANNE (8) leads his team through the hand-shake line with the United States after the Americans advanced to the Gold Medal Game with a surprising 6-1 result at the expense of Suomi. (Matt Slocum/AP)

Finland assistant captain TEEMU SELANNE (8) leads his team through the hand-shake line with the United States after the Americans advanced to the Gold Medal Game with a surprising 6-1 result at the expense of Suomi. (Matt Slocum/AP)

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United States 2 – Switzerland 0 : Match Report

United States forward ZACH PARISE (9) pops the puck past prone Swiss goalie JONAS HILLER into the net to break a third-period scoreless tie in the quarterfinals at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Looking on are Swiss forward THIERRY PATERLINI (23) and captain MARK STREIT (7) as well as United States attackers JAMIE LANGENBRUNNER (15) ane PAUL STASTNY (26). (Jukka Rautio/HHOF-IIHF Images)

United States forward ZACH PARISE (9) pops the puck past prone Swiss goalie JONAS HILLER into the net to break a third-period scoreless tie in the quarterfinals at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Looking on are Swiss forward THIERRY PATERLINI (23) and captain MARK STREIT (7) as well as United States attackers JAMIE LANGENBRUNNER (15) ane PAUL STASTNY (26). (Jukka Rautio/HHOF-IIHF Images)

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It is never easy to defeat the same team twice at any tournament, let alone in the pressure-packed enviroment that is the Winter Olympics…

The UNITED STATES, the top overall seed following group round-robin play at the 2010 Games, would confirm that theory still holds water as they confronted SWITZERLAND in the quarterfinals at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver.

Goaltender JONAS HILLER of the Anaheim Ducks was not at his best and had allowed three goals on 24 shots for Switzerland in the Group A round-robin game against the United States which had opened this year’s Olympic ice hockey proceedings. 

However, provided a second bite at the apple, Hiller would bring his A game for the re-match with the Americans at the quarterfinal hurdle. Which was exactly the sort of quality that Switzerland coach RALPH KRUEGER needed to receive from one of the only two National Hockey League players on his Olympic side. With Hiller in high gear, the Swiss were adequtely prepared to give the Americans a game.

To say Hiller was huge in the quarterfinals would be an understatement; the Anaheim Duck denied eighteen American shots in the first period alone. Altogether, the United States unleashed 32 shots at the Swiss goal the first two periods as compared to the eight amassed by Switzerland against American netminder RYAN MILLER of the Buffalo Sabres. And yet, as the two teams skated out for the final period of play, the score still stood where it had when the game’s first puck had originally been dropped.

While Switzerland certainly generated a few opportunities of their own on the counterattack, they were also a bit lucky, as well. United States forward PHIL KESSEL of the Toronto Maple Leafs clanked Swiss iron in the second session. And, an apparent goal at the end of the period was waved off by the referees after further review.

Hiller had made a save off a deflection from the stick of United States forward PATRICK KANE of the Chicago Black Hawks at the side of his net. With the puck in mid-air, the Swiss netminder attempted to swat the black disc to safety with his goalstick. Instead, the biscuit dropped behind Hiller and into the back of Switzerland’s net; replays clearly showed the period had expired.

“It was good to go into the (second) intermission with a 0-0 tie,” Swiss defenseman YANNICK WEBER, a farmhand in the Montreal Canadiens organization with the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs, offered after the match. “I think it gave us some confidence.”

But, when defenseman PHILIPPE FURRER of SC Bern was sent off for tripping 1:56 into the final frame, it proved to be a penalty too far for Switzerland.

A dozen seconds had barely been counted off the clock when, on the ensuing power play, United States forward ZACH PARISE of the New Jersey Devils deflected Detroit Red Wings defenseman BRIAN RAFALSKI’s shot up and over Hiller’s glove to give the Americans a 1-0 advantage. 

The Swiss actually played their best hockey of the game in the final twenty minutes and were extremely unfortunate to not draw level shortly after the United States went to the lead. 33-year-old SANDY JEANNIN of HC Fribourg-Gotteron, appearing in his 89th career game for Switzerland at a major international tournament, created the chance. Receiving a pass in the left face-off circle, Jeannin drew Miller out of goal and beat the U.S. goaltender with a wrister, but his shot caught the far post.

The Swiss exchanged Hiller for an extra-attacker with roughly two minutes remaining, but Parise’s empty net goal twelve seconds from time provided clear passage for the United States into the semifinals at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

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UNITED STATES 2 – SWITZERLAND 0

Shots-on-goal :  United States 44 – Switzerland 19

USA goals :  Parise 2

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United States defenseman BRIAN RAFALSKI (28) sends Switzerland's ROMAN WICK (14) face-first into the boards at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

United States defenseman BRIAN RAFALSKI (28) sends Switzerland's ROMAN WICK (14) face-first into the boards at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

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United States forward PAUL STASTNY (26) of the Colorado Avalanche slams Switzerland defenseman and captain MARK STREIT of the New York Islanders into the boards at the Vancouver Games. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

United States forward PAUL STASTNY (26) of the Colorado Avalanche slams Switzerland defenseman and captain MARK STREIT of the New York Islanders into the boards at the Vancouver Games. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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United States defenseman BRIAN RAFALSKI (28) of the Detroit Red Wings derails Switzerland forward THOMAS DERUNS (18) of HC Servette Geneva at the 2010 Winter Olympics. (Matt Slocum/AP)

United States defenseman BRIAN RAFALSKI (28) of the Detroit Red Wings derails Switzerland forward THOMAS DERUNS (18) of HC Servette Geneva at the 2010 Winter Olympics. (Matt Slocum/AP)

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visuals to be continued…

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United States 5 – Canada 3 : Match Report

United States forwards ZACH PARISE (9) of the New Jersey Devils and PAUL STASTNY (26) of the Colorado Avalanche signal BRIAN RAFALSKI's strike just 41 seconds into the match versus host nation Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Dejected are Canada's goalie, MARTIN BRODEUR of the New Jersey Devils, and one-time New Jersey Devils defenseman SCOTT NIEDERMAYER (27), now of the Anaheim Ducks. (Matthew Manor/HHOF-IIHF Images)

United States forwards ZACH PARISE (9) of the New Jersey Devils and PAUL STASTNY (26) of the Colorado Avalanche signal BRIAN RAFALSKI's strike just 41 seconds into the match versus host nation Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Dejected are Canada's goalie, MARTIN BRODEUR of the New Jersey Devils, and one-time New Jersey Devils defenseman SCOTT NIEDERMAYER (27), now of the Anaheim Ducks. (Matthew Manor/HHOF-IIHF Images)

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It had been exactly fifty years since the UNITED STATES last defeated CANADA in ice hockey at the Winter Olympic Games.

In 1960, at Squaw Valley in northern California, it was former University of Minnesota All-America JACK MCCARTAN, later a short-term New York Ranger, who made 38 saves as the United States upset Canada 2-1 in what some refer to as the first Miracle On Ice.

In 2010, at Vancouver in the western Canadian province of British Columbia, former Michigan State University All-America RYAN MILLER, now a star with the Buffalo Sabres, managed to turn aside 42 shots as the Americans were able to upend the host nation 5-3 at the Winter Olympic Games. 

The United States were nearly doubled up for the game by the forty-five shots unleashed upon their goal by Canada but, then again, never trailed in the final Group A round-robin match, thanks in large part to Miller’s efforts between the pipes.

Former New Jersey Devils defenseman BRIAN RAFALSKI bagged two goals for the U.S. against his former teammate, Canada’s goaltender extraordinaire MARTIN BRODEUR. And, current New Jersey Devils forward JAMIE LANGENBRUNNER added another for the Americans against the assured future Hall of Fame netminder playing on native soil in Vancouver, as well. For Brodeur, certainly, it was not one of the three-time Stanley Cup champion’s most convincing performances in net at any level, NHL or international.

The most crucial moment in the match arrived at 16:46 of the second period when New York Ranger CHRIS DRURY scored for the United States and snapped the 2-2 tie after a shot from Anaheim Duck BOBBY RYAN and some hard work in front by St. Louis Blue DAVID BACKES.

Canada, as had been the case the lion’s share so far, were once again left to chase the game.

A goal from Pittsburgh Penquins Stanley Cup champion SIDNEY CROSBY would bring the Canucks within one with 3:09 to play but Canada’s hopes were ultimately killed in the most ironic fashion.

The lone United States player who skates in the National Hockey League for the Vancouver Canucks, RYAN KESLER, sealed matters by scoring an empty-net goal with 45 seconds to go in the game to effectively sink Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

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UNITED STATES 5 – CANADA 3

Shots-on-goal :  Canada 45 – United States 23

USA goals :  Rafalski 2, Drury, Langenbrunner, Kesler

CAN goals :  Staal, Heatley, Crosby

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For those who have not visited our sections detailing Olympic history, the most saves for a United States goaltender versus Canada in a non-losing effort at the Winter Olympics came in 1952 at the Oslo Games.

Former Dartmouth University star DICK DESMOND stopped 55 shots as the silver medalist United States earned a 3-3 draw with the Olympic champion Canada on the tournament’s final day. The United States were outshot on that day in Norway by a whopping 58-13 margin.

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Canada superstar SIDNEY CROSBY (87) is clobbered at the boards on home ice by United States defenseman RYAN SUTER (20) at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. (AP photo)

Canada superstar SIDNEY CROSBY (87) is clobbered at the boards on home ice by United States defenseman RYAN SUTER (20) at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. (AP photo)

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Teammates on the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penquins notwithstanding, Canada superstar SIDNEY CROSBY (87) is punished along the boards by United States defenseman BROOKS ORPIK at the 2010 Vancouver Games. (AP photo)

Teammates on the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penquins notwithstanding, Canada superstar SIDNEY CROSBY (87) is punished along the boards by United States defenseman BROOKS ORPIK at the 2010 Vancouver Games. (AP photo)

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to be continued…

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United States 6 – Norway 1 : Match Report

Former University of Minnesota star PHIL KESSEL shoots past Norwegian goaltender PAL GROTNES as defenseman MATS TRYGG despairs the early 1-0 American lead. The United States comfortably defeated Norway 6-1 to remain unbeaten at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Kessel registered a goal and an assist in the match. (Matthew Manor/HHOF-IIHF Images)

Former University of Minnesota star PHIL KESSEL shoots past Norwegian goaltender PAL GROTNES as defenseman MATS TRYGG despairs the early 1-0 American lead. The United States comfortably defeated Norway 6-1 to remain unbeaten at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Kessel registered a goal and an assist in the match. (Matthew Manor/HHOF-IIHF Images)

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The last thing the UNITED STATES needed in their Olympic contest with NORWAY was a repeat performance of the encounter in the Balkans at the Sarajevo Games of 1984.

And so, PHIL KESSEL of the Toronto Maple Leafs took matters into his own hands barely two and a half minutes into the game. Profiting from a slick backhand pass from San Jose Shark JOE PAVELSKI, who produced a pair of assists for the game, the former Boston Bruins first rounder easily scored to give the U.S. the all-important first goal.

New York Ranger CHRIS DRURY doubled the United States’ advantage thirteen minutes in after netting the rebound of a shot by Ranger teammate RYAN CALLAHAN.

Norway did have a pair of bona fide chances in the first period despite being wildly outshot; both late roster addition JONAS ANDERSEN and LARS ERIK SPETS were denied by Buffalo Sabres netminder RYAN MILLER, however.

Chicago Black Hawk PATRICK KANE knocked home another rebound goal off a slapshot from New Jersey Devil ZACH PARISE to give the United States a commanding 3-0 lead six minutes into the second period.

One-time Dallas Stars farmhand MARIUS HOLTET did manage a goal for Norway shortly thereafter. The former second round pick and current member of defending Swedish league champion BK Farjestad Karlstad completed a solo rush from his own end with a wrist shot beating Miller in the United States goal.

The Norwegians, in fact, enjoyed their best period in the middle session and took seven of their game total eleven shots, but Miller was consistently sharp a second consecutive game between the pipes for the Americans.

The United States, who generated with 39 shots for Norwegian goaltender PAL GROTNES to deal with, were finally rewarded for their work at both ends of the ice on the day with a trio of goals late in the third period.

Pittsburgh Penquin RYAN MALONE finished off a fine play by Los Angeles Kings defenseman JACK JOHNSON at 54:19 to open the floodgates for the United States. Detroit Red Wings rearguard and three-time Olympian BRIAN RAFALSKI poured in two goals with the last three minutes to set the final score at 6-1 for the Americans, who will face Canada in their final Group A match on February 21.

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UNITED STATES 6 – NORWAY 1

Shots-on-goal :  United States 39 – Norway 11

USA goals :  Rafalski 2, Kessel, Drury, Kane, Malone

NOR goals :  Holtet

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Norway goaltender PAL GROTNES following one of six goals conceded versus the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada. (Getty Images)

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Goal-scorers PATRICK KANE (88) of the United States and MARIUS HOLTET (9) of Norway meet at the Norwegian bench in Vancouver. (Getty Images)

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RYAN MALONE (12) is congratulated for scoring the fourth United States goal by TIM GLEASON (4), JACK JOHNSON, JOE PAVELSKI (16) and PHIL KESSEL (81) during the Americans’ 6-1 defeat of Norway at the 2010 Vancouver Games. (AP Photo)

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Norway’s PATRICK THORESEN (41), a former Philadelphia Flyer, has his helmet pop off in a collision with United States defenseman BROOKS ORPIK (44) of the Pittsburgh Penquins. (McClatchy/Tribune photo)

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United States – Final Olympic Roster

JOE PAVELSKI won an NCAA championship in 2005-06 while at the University of Wisconsin; the San Jose Shark would surely love to pocket an Olympic gold medal on his travels at the Winter Games in Vancouver this February.

JOE PAVELSKI won an NCAA championship in 2005-06 while at the University of Wisconsin; the San Jose Shark would surely love to pocket an Olympic gold medal on his travels at the Winter Games in Vancouver this February.

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UNITED STATES — final roster for 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics

Coach — Ron WILSON —— Asst — Scott Gordon, John Tortorella

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Goaltenders

  • # 29 — Jonathan QUICK — LOS ANGELES
  • # 30 — Tim THOMAS — BOSTON
  • # 39 — Ryan MILLER — BUFFALO

Defensemen

  • #   3 — Jack JOHNSON — LOS ANGELES
  • #   4 — Tim GLEASON — CAROLINA
  • #   6 — Erik JOHNSON — ST. LOUIS
  • # 19 — Ryan WHITNEY — ANAHEIM
  • # 20 — Ryan SUTER — NASHVILLE
  • # 28 — Brian RAFALSKI — DETROIT
  • # 44 — Brooks ORPIK — PITTSBURGH

Forwards

  • #   9 — Zach PARISE — NEW JERSEY
  • # 12 — Ryan MALONE — PITTSBURGH
  • # 15 — Jamie LANGENBRUNNER — NEW JERSEY
  • # 16 — Joe PAVELSKI — SAN JOSE
  • # 17 — Ryan KESLER — VANCOUVER
  • # 23 — Chris DRURY — NY RANGERS
  • # 24 — Ryan CALLAHAN — NY RANGERS
  • # 26 — Paul STASTNY — COLORADO
  • # 32 — Dustin BROWN — LOS ANGELES
  • # 42 — David BACKES — ST. LOUIS
  • # 54 — Bobby RYAN — ANAHEIM
  • # 81 — Phil KESSEL — TORONTO
  • # 88 — Patrick KANE — CHICAGO

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The two U.S. line-up changes, as noted in a previous article here, are defensemen TIM GLEASON and RYAN WHITNEY, who took the places of PAUL MARTIN of the New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leaf MIKE KOMISAREK.

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United States 3 – Switzerland 1 : Match Report

Switzerland goaltender JONAS HILLER (1) looks up at the scoreboard to see 2-0 registered for the United States after DAVID BACKES (42) scored moments earlier. (Matthew Manor/HHOF-IIHF Images)

Switzerland goaltender JONAS HILLER (1) looks up at the scoreboard to see 2-0 registered for the United States after DAVID BACKES (42) scored moments earlier. (Matthew Manor/HHOF-IIHF Images)

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Anaheim Ducks forward BOBBY RYAN, the number two overall pick of the 2005 National Hockey League Draft, put a puck past club teammate JONAS HILLER guarding the Swiss goal with one minute plus one second to go in the first period to start the United States off right on opening day at the 2010 Winter Olympics in British Columbia, Canada.

Once the St. Louis Blues’ DAVID BACKES (Minnesota State Univ) and Pittsburgh Penquins’ RYAN MALONE (St. Cloud State) struck for two goals inside of three minutes, Switzerland’s ship was effectively sunk just eight minutes into the second period of the very first match of the ice hockey competition at the Vancouver Games.

The United States defense and Buffalo Sabres goaltender RYAN MILLER (Michigan State Univ) were particularly solid on the whole and limited the Swiss to just fifteen shots for the duration of the match. Former University of Wisconsin and Nashville Predators defenseman RYAN SUTER, whose father Bob was a blueliner on the famed 1980 gold medal squad for the United States, drew the lone American assist in the contest. Former University of Minnesota and St. Louis Blues rearguard ERIK JOHNSON led the U.S. team with 19:23 minutes logged.

Switzerland, who created chances but failed to finish, did manage to salvage some pride with a little over ten minutes to go through ROMAN WICK, assisted by former NHL forward HNAT DOMENICHELLI and current New York Islanders defenseman MARK STREIT.

Coach RALPH KRUEGER, making a return to his native Canada, and his Swiss squad are not equipped to consistently cope with 3-0 deficits halfway into a match.

The United States, with the 3-1 triumph, ran their all-time Olympic record to 7-1 opposite Switzerland after the first match between the two nations 90 years ago at Antwerp, Belgium, in 1920.

More importantly, a confidence-building victory at the first attempt is exactly what the youthful United States needed for coach RON WILSON from its first match at the Vancouver tournament.

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UNITED STATES 3 – SWITZERLAND 1

shots-on-goal :  United States 24 – Switzerland 15

USA goals : Ryan, Backes, Malone

SWITZ goals : Wick

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United States coach RON WILSON, a native of Windsor, Ontario, in Canada and a two-time All-American at Providence College in the mid-1970s, spent eight seasons in the 1980s skating for EHC Kloten, HC Davos and SC Zurich in Switzerland’s elite league. On three occasions, Wilson joined the Minnesota North Stars at the conclusion of the Swiss season to complete National Hockey League campaigns.

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Minneapolis-born St. Louis Blues forward DAVID BACKES (42) of the United States wallops Swiss defenseman YANNICK WEBER (77) of the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs along the boards at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada. (John Mahoney/CNS)

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Not an intra-squad prayer session but rather a mid-ice collision between the United States forward ZACH PARISE (9) of the New Jersey Devils and Switzerland defender SEVERIN BLINDENBACHER (5) of Swedish Elitserien club Farjestad Karlstad. (John Mahoney/CNS)

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Blindenbacher (5) and Anaheim Duck goaltender JONAS HILLER (1) defend the Switzerland goal against the onslaught of United States forward DUSTIN BROWN (32) of the Los Angeles Kings in Vancouver. (Shaun Best/Reuters)

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United States forward BOBBY RYAN (54) of the Anaheim Ducks, a native of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, accepts adulation from his teammates after shooting the Americans to a late first period lead in the opening game of the 2010 Olympic ice hockey tournament in Vancouver. (Shaun Best/Reuters)

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Hiller is beaten by Anaheim Duck teammate Ryan for the very first goal of the 2010 Vancouver Games. (Shaun Best/Reuters)

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On his debut at the Winter Olympic Games, Buffalo Sabres goaltender RYAN MILLER, a product of Michigan State University, was sharp when he needed to be versus Switzerland. (Hans Deryk/Reuters)

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Switzerland vs United States – Match History

Switzerland captain MARK STREIT of the New York Islanders controls the puck versus the United States at the 2009 IIHF World Championships in Bern. Switzerland defeated the United States 4-3 in the match. Streit, 33, will be a pivotal player for the Swiss in Vancouver.

Switzerland captain MARK STREIT of the New York Islanders controls the puck versus the United States at the 2009 IIHF World Championships in Bern. Switzerland defeated the United States 4-3 in the match. Streit, 33, will be a pivotal player for the Swiss in Vancouver.

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Match history at major international tournaments :

SWITZERLAND — versus — UNITED STATES

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First meeting — 90 years ago — 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium

Overall record — United States 21 — Switzerland 7 — ties 1

Winter Olympics record — United States 6 — Switzerland 1

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  • 1920 — OG – Antwerp ————————– 29-0 – United States
  • 1933 — WC – Prague —————————- 7-0 – United States
  • 1936 — OG – Garmisch/Partenkirchen —— 3-0 – United States
  • 1938 — WC – Prague —————————- 1-0 – Switzerland
  • 1939 — WC – Basel ——————————- 3-2 – Switzerland
  • 1939 — WC – Basel ——————————- 2-1 – United States
  • 1947 — WC – Prague —————————- 4-3 – United States
  • 1948 — OG – St. Moritz ————————– 5-4 – Switzerland
  • 1949 — WC – Stockholm ———————- 12-5 – United States
  • 1949 — WC – Stockholm ———————— 5-4 – Switzerland
  • 1950 — WC – London ————————– 10-5 – United States
  • 1951 — WC – Paris ——————————- 5-1 – Switzerland
  • 1952 — OG – Oslo ——————————– 8-2 – United States
  • 1955 — WC – Krefeld —————————- 7-3 – United States
  • 1962 — WC – Denver ————————– 12-1 – United States
  • 1964 — OG – Innsbruck ————————- 7-4 – United States
  • 1970 — WC (b) – Bucharest —————— 12-3 – United States
  • 1972 — OG (q) – Sapporo ———————– 5-3 – United States
  • 1974 — WC (b) – Ljubljana ——————– 10-3 – United States
  • 1983 — WC (b) – Tokyo ————————– 5-2 – United States
  • 1987 — WC – Vienna —————————— 6-3 – United States
  • 1988 — OG – Calgary —————————– 8-4 – United States
  • 1991 — WC – Turku ——————————- 4-2 – United States
  • 1998 — WC – Zurich ——————————- 5-2 – United States
  • 1999 — WC – Oslo ——————————— 3-0 – United States
  • 2000 — WC – St. Petersburg ——————– 3-3 – tie
  • 2002 — WC – Karlstad —————————- 3-0 – United States
  • 2003 — WC – Tampere ————————— 1-0 – Switzerland
  • 2009 — WC – Bern ——————————— 4-3 – Switzerland

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United States – Injury Replacements Named

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New Jersey Devils defenseman PAUL MARTIN will not be skating at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver later this month.

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The UNITED STATES has announced that a pair of defensemen originally named to their Winter Olympics squad for the 2010 Vancouver Games have been replaced due to injuries that have not healed.

PAUL MARTIN of the New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs rearguard MIKE KOMISAREK have been replaced on the U.S. roster by Anaheim Ducks defenseman RYAN WHITNEY as well as TIM GLEASON of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Martin has played just nine games for the Devils this season after having his forearm broken by a shot last October. A former 2nd round draft pick (# 62 overall) out of the University of Minnesota, the 28-year-old blueliner has totaled 110 assists the past four NHL seasons for New Jersey. Martin has represented the United States at three major international tournaments (17 ga, 1 go 8 as, 9 pts) on the senior level.

Komisarek injured his shoulder on the second day of the New Year and has his rehabilitation has not progressed. In fact, the 28-year-old former first round pick of the Montreal Canadiens (2001, # 7 overall) from the University of Michigan could be looking at season-ending surgery. Komisarek has appeared for the United States just once, at the 2006 IIHF World Championships (7 ga, 0 go 1 as, 1 pts).

The two substitute players selected by USA Hockey led by General Manager BRIAN BURKE  are very much similiar in style to the two injured players they replace.

Whitney, the Pittsburgh Penquins’ 2002 1st round choice (# 5 overall) from Boston University, is a puck-moving defenseman who has amassed 126 assists over the past four NHL seasons. The 26-year-old is more of a goal-scorer than Martin having tallied 34 goals in the past four years, a total almost twice that of the New Jersey Devil for the same period. Although Whitney has played for the United States at the World Junior Championships, the Anaheim Duck has never played before at a major senior international event.

Gleason, a former Ottawa Senators’ first round draft choice (2001, # 23 overall), is a stay-at-home type more in the mold of Komisarek. At 6’0″ 217 lbs, the Michigan native does bring four inches and 26 pounds less to the U.S. blueline than the Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman would have. Gleason skated for the United States once, at the 2008 IIHF World Championships (6 ga, 0 go 1 as, 1 pts).

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