Last Sunday in Vancouver, something special happened in Olympic hockey. For the first time in 50 years, the United States beat the Canadian team. Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabers was absolutely sensational in goal and looked like a glorified version of Jim Craig from the 1980 USA Olympic gold medal team. They played with a sense of pride, passion, and most importantly; as a team. The Canadians are the favorite in every Olympics to win the gold in hockey. This is the sport they invented and worship. Their team is made of up of the best talent in the world hands down. No one expected much out of this United States hockey team coming into the tournament. Many predicted it would be a great success if they even medaled. After what I saw Sunday, we as Americans now have reason to believe and here is why.
Probably one of the greatest American underdog stories in sports is regarding the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team beating the overpowering and superstar talented Russians to go on and win the gold. The reason it was so amazing is because a bunch of college kids came together as a team and believed they could beat the greatest team in the world. That is power and a huge competitive advantage that no competitor can take away. After beating Canada Sunday, I believe these players now believe they can beat anyone in the world. That hasn’t been the case over the past three decades.
The Olympics have changed since the 1980 United States team won the gold medal. Olympic hockey is now played with almost all NHL professionals. The competition and level of play has increased dramatically over the past decade. Most of the hockey talent is bread either out of Canada or Eastern Europe thus the reason the United States is always the underdog. Many called the win on Sunday the greatest underdog victory since we won in 1980. I have to disagree. These American players play with or against the best superstars in the NHL for 82 games every season.
We currently have the hottest goalie in the Olympics in Ryan Miller and a team that averages the age of 26 that is hungry for something none of them have ever tasted before. Many of the players have won Stanley Cups or been in big game situations so they know what pressure is. The management committee for USA hockey has probably put together the best group of players since the 1980 team. This team wants it and it showed in their play Sunday. Each player played every shift like it was his last. Players were diving in front of pucks and checking like they had something to prove. This was only a preliminary game though! What are the games that seriously mean something going to be like? With the win Sunday, the American players showed the rest of the world they are for real in these Olympic hockey games. They are here to win it and they now have the swagger and mojo to maybe pull it off. If you want to watch something special and players give everything they have for a country, help root our American’s in for another miracle! This kind of sports magic only happens every four years…
This is a guest post written by Rob Donatelli
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]