Sorry I haven’t written much about hockey this year. I’m on vacation this week, in conjunction with the Winter Olympics so no time like the present to cover the subject. I LOVE tournament hockey.
I had to stay off the skis today because my ski boots had not yet arrived, so I’m at my parents house waiting for DHL and watching Team USA vs Latvia. Team USA came out in the First Period like they were on fire. High-speed, end-to-end hockey, very entertaining to watch. The pace put Latvia on their heels and the inevitable mistakes allowed the US to put 2 fast goals on the board. But then the pace slowed as Lativa rallied around their national hero, diminutive goaltender Artus Irbe. As a (retired) goaltender I love to see a team play defence as a unit.
Latvia had the “7th man” in the form of a rabid and raucous crowd – one of the great things about Olympic hockey indeed.
The Second Period saw the action even out and Latvia catch up very quickly, go ahead, then fall even with USA 3-3. It is great to see John Grahame in net for USA. I watched his Dad play for the Houston Aeros of the old WHL when I was a kid. He made some amazing saves which seemed to inspire Team USA to pick up the pace. The Third Period became a replay of the first, with end-to-end action, minus the scoring. The US started shooting and skating again. But Irbe stood on his head and held the tie to the end.
Great game to watch, even though Team USA couldn’t pull a win.
Update: a few hours later, the media is treating it like a defeat. IIRC the “Miracle on ice” team of 1980 started their gold medal run with a 2-2 tie with Sweden.
The great thing about living in NW Washington is the ability to get CBC TV from Vancouver, which provides an alternate to the exceedingly dull and narrow focus the US media puts on the Olympics. Unfortunately I’m not at home right now so all I have is NBC. Oh well.
One other thing I noted about the game today was the Officiating was excellent. Very few missed calls and what was called was accurate and appropriate. I also noted the Referee had a video camera on his helmet. It is obviously NOT part of the NBC feed, as they never showed any “ref-cam” images. Having been a ref, I think it would be great for hockey fans to see the perspective, as the referee has the best “seat” in the house for any hockey game.