Opinion: Team USA brings excitement to the ice in Olympic game against Russia

February 16, 2014
Members of the Russia and USA Olympic hockey teams shake hands after a game at Bolshoy Ice Dome during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 15.  USA won, 3-2.

Members of the Russia and USA Olympic hockey teams shake hands after a game at Bolshoy Ice Dome during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 15. USA won, 3-2.

Remember when it was football season in America?

Of course you do, you’re American.

Remember when the U.S. men’s national hockey team slammed its way through the preliminary rounds of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics?

Of course you don’t, you’re American.

Yes, another beloved football season came to a close just over two weeks ago — the Seattle Seahawks dominated quarterback Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos, 43-8, in Super Bowl XLVIII Feb. 2 — and as Americans, many of us are left searching for something to keep us entertained for the next six months as we await the start of another college football season.

Many of us try to follow an NBA team, or start prepping our brackets for March Madness next month.

Well, I’m here to tell you that if that’s what you’re doing, you’re doing it wrong.

Now, I love my hoops — the three weeks of the NCAA Tournament are, in my opinion, the best time of the year — but this year, they take a back seat. This year is an Olympic year.

Sure, the U.S. isn’t dominating like we all are accustomed to when either the Winter or Summer Olympic Games come along every two years (the Americans are ‘only’ in third with 16 total medals as of Sunday night). But there is still a week left in the games, and one team in particular to which we should all be paying closer attention.

The men’s hockey squad won all three of its preliminary games against Slovakia, Russia and Slovenia, respectively. The latter was a 5-1 decision early Sunday morning, less than 24 hours after arguably the most exciting event of the games thus far — the U.S.’ 3-2 shootout victory against host Russia Saturday.

It took nearly three hours for the stars and stripes to dispatch the Russians, with St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie finally beating Russian goaltender and Columbus Blue Jacket Sergei Bobrovsky in the eighth round of a shootout.

Now, frustratingly, I slept through my 7:30 a.m. alarm Saturday and thus missed the majority of the game, but was awake in time to watch the host country think it had taken the lead late in regulation only to have its goal reversed and America’s hopes revitalized.

After Fedor Tyutin — yet another Columbus Blue Jacket — thought he had scored with just 4:40 left to give his country a 3-2 lead, the referees determined the net had been pushed off its anchors and therefore the goal was disallowed because of international rules.

After overtime came a shootout for the ages.

Oshie — who by international rules is allowed to shoot as many times during sudden death after the first three penalty takes — showed the ice water in his veins and ended it in round eight.

No, it wasn’t the miracle on ice in 1980 where the American’s took down the Russian juggernaut against all odds, but the victory nonetheless proved that even if your love for sport doesn’t extend past the football field, the Olympics — and men’s hockey team — demand your attention.

After taking care of Slovenia, 5-1, Sunday, the U.S. waits to see whom it plays in the qualifying round.

With the excitement from the breakfast hockey over the weekend, I’d say now is high time for Americans to take notice of their men’s hockey team.

You could always sit around and count the days until the 2014 NFL Draft, but why not support your country in arguably the greatest spectacle in sports?

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