It was the perfect set-up. Canada eliminated Latvia to move onto the semifinal round and the USA eliminated the Czech Republic to go head to head with their biggest rival. Team Canada took on Team USA in a dramatic, rivalry-driven semifinal round that ended with one goal.
Carey Price was in net for Team Canada, Jonathan Quick led Team USA. John Tavares was out of the Canadian line-up due to a season-ending injury, while Matt Duchene took his place on the roster. For Team USA, T.J. Oshie, James Van Riemsdyk, and Ryan Callahan were to be feared with their intense play, scoring capabilities, and gritty offense.
The players took the ice, the puck was dropped, and I sat in my chair, holding my breath.
Canada started off the period evenly matched in playing ability with the American team. Both goalies stood on their heads for their teams, and, halfway through the first period, shots on net were even at 9 each. Jeff Carter and Patrice Bergeron had many chances on net, but just couldn’t capitalize. Matt Duchene had a partial breakaway near the end of the period, but just couldn’t bury the puck. There was no score after the first period.
1:41 into the second period. Former Calgary Flames defender now St. Louis Blues player, Jay Bouwmeester took a shot on net from the blue line. Jamie Benn deflected it and Canada scored the first and only goal of the game.
Halfway through the third period, when Team USA pressured Price on net, I was starting to wonder if Team Canada could keep up with the pace. The clocked ticked down, the American team pulled their goalie, and it was all Team USA near the end. Time ran out and Team Canada officially moved onto the final round.
Team USA has done an amazing job throughout the Olympics this far. Their raw talent and highly skilled players are a true testament to hockey elite. It is always a hard game to win against such a great opponent.
Team Canada takes on Team Sweden on Sunday, February 23 at 7am eastern. Congrats, guys, you’ve made Canada proud!
Go Team Canada!