Sunday, February 28, 2010
All the Marbles
To quote a line from the movie "The Princess Bride": "So now it's down to you, and now it's down to me." Team USA and Team CANADA go for the Gold in Vancouver, with the winner taking more than bragging rights. For Team Canada, it's the culmination of a quest to reclaim the crown of supremacy in a game created on its icy ponds and lakes. Canada won its first gold in 50 years back in 2002. In the 2006 Olympics, the team finished in a dismal 7th place. So... there's a lot of redemption on the line here for the guys in red and white, and on "home" ice, too.
Team USA faces similar pressure. The last time Americans sported the gold, the year was 1980 and the team had pulled off a "Miracle" upset of a powerhouse Soviet team. In fact, the anniversary of that game just happened to fall this past week (February 24), adding pressure to a team already feeling the weight of history on its back. One week ago today, USA beat Canada for the first time in 50 years, since the 1960 Winter Games, the only other time Americans won hockey gold. And even though it was a preliminary game, it didn't lessen the sweetness of a 5-3 victory for Team USA fans. The fact that the team took the ice wearing replica jerseys (sweaters) from 1960 seemed fitting.
Team USA powered through Switzerland and Finland to reach this day. Canada battled past Germany, Russia and Slovakia. The arena will be jam-packed with patriotic Canadians. Canada goalie Roberto Luongo will man the net in a rink he already knows like the back of his hand. But Ryan Miller has been outstanding in net for Team USA, shutting down all comers. And his teammates have pretty much made themselves at home over the past two weeks, dominating nearly every opponent they faced.
So... it now comes down to Canada... and it now comes down to USA. Millions will tune in at 3pm Eastern/Noon Pacific to see who skates away with all the marbles.