Americans have gone from one extreme to another in four years. Before Pyeongchang, students were almost completely ignored, they were taken even less than at the previous Cologne World Cup, they relied on experience and guys with big “cohones” like 39-year-old Brian Gionta at that time, who had not played for almost half a year before the Olympics.
Many European techies like Dan Sexton, who was then tearing up the KHL, were ignored. The result is sad – the best in the hockey club were just a few students like Troy Terry, who scared everyone so much at the start of this season.
This year the pendulum has swung the other way. “Miracle on Ice” is not one specific match, it is quite a cornerstone of American mythology. Add to this the attitude of the locals to student sports, which even trying to explain is useless and pointless – you must immediately be born in the open spaces of Kentucky.
Perhaps all these subconscious stereotypes led to the fact that 15 NCAA players went to the Olympics at once and coach David Quinn, who made a name for himself in the collegiate league.
Not to say that the concept of the Americans was bad. At the Olympics, where almost all competitors were forced to assemble hockey clubs with an average age of 29-30 years, a herd of young bulls from the prairie could easily trample everyone. This is what we saw in the group stage – but in the quarterfinals they were amazingly unlucky with the opponent.
The Slovaks, despite the lack of big names, were the most inconvenient rival in style – Craig Ramsey also recruited young people into the national hockey team, taught them to run fast and load other people’s gates. The Americans saw their own light version, which did not give up under pressure and was ready to respond in kind.
And Canadians had an old hockey team
On the contrary, there were no expectations from the Canadians before the tournament. It was not even close to the club that took the 2021 World Cup. That club was made up of young and hungry with a little interspersed with experienced players and in this regard was just much more like the American student squad – 2022.
The experienced Gerard Galland, who knows how to squeeze the most out of mediocre starting data, also made the difference.
Young, however, were in that club, but the Canadians have little opportunity to use their young talents. The NCAA choice for the Maple is much narrower, the players on bilateral contracts were not released, taking half of the U20 collections from the junior league is suicide. Therefore, it turned out to be a slightly rejuvenated hockey team compared to 2018, but still not by much.
And after all, the weak points of this hockey team were immediately visible – for example, the goalkeeper hockey team. The Riga triumph – 2021 is also the merit of Darcy Kemper, who for the last couple of seasons has taken fifth and seventh places in the voting for Vezina and almost single-handedly dragged Arizona. Without Enkhaelites, Pasquale took the place at the gate, who spent an uncertain season at Lokomotiv and played an uncertain match with the Americans, even though he was not the main culprit of the defeat.
Perhaps the tournament grid hurt the Canadians terribly. Two matches in a row with China is, of course, an easy walk, but when you are Canada, and you have a notorious underdog in front of your eyes, it is extremely difficult to get ready psychologically. The Canadians partially skated these two games on the same skate, and then, perhaps, they could not feel the necessary level of resistance.
There is a feeling that this hockey team was originally assembled incorrectly
However, names don’t play hockey – and the Olympic tournament shows it again and again. For North Americans, the return of the NHL to the Olympics would be a great decision – but it’s not necessary alone.