Joe Hanretty, Contributing Writer
Shock and surprise. Those are the sentiments being felt by our nation — or rather, they should be, as the U.S. “Super Team” fell to the Canadians 1-0 in hockey. Some would say the team put forth an awesome effort. Others feel a sort of disappointment that will last until 2018. For me personally, disappointment is an understatement. Yes, Canada is loaded with star power and the most gifted players in the sport, but the United States has some of the purer scorers in Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane and James van Riemsdyk, among others.
It was by no means a bad game. In fact, it might have been Jonathan Quick’s best game of the tournament. The lone and eventual game-winning marker was one that will haunt Ryan Callahan for a long time. His late rotation to cover the slot opened up a lane for Jay Bouwmeester to send a shot-pass to Jamie Benn, who was sliding in the back door for a give-and-go scoring chance for the Canadians. Obviously, it was successful, and I sit here now lamenting. We could have been better. The United States’ best chance came early in the game, when John Carlson and the attacking Americans found space and a wide-open shooting lane down the slot, but simply hit Carry Price in the glove.
As my friend and expert analyst, Jack Grubner, put it, “It is true that the United States [was] assembled to be a physical, yet skilled team. It is also true that [it was] built to be a threat for gold. However, it is even truer that Canada made it [its] mission to be the fastest team in the tournament.”
I absolutely agree. The managers of the team need to reevaluate their approach to Canada in the future. One cause for the loss, I think, was the size of the ice. International hockey rinks are longer and wider than those of North American leagues. The American coaches and managers were obviously very aware of this fact, yet they decided to go the size and strength route, while sprinkling in the playmakers previously mentioned. To advance in the tournament, physicality is a must, but only to a point.
As we all saw and as Jack Grubner said, “Canada had a very balanced attack while providing big defensemen that clogged the transitioning offense of the Americans. By keeping the United States outside the circles and against the boards, it prevented any sort of consistency in finding good looks at the goal, let alone possible deflections. The fact of the matter still remains that Canada put together an extremely fast team, with all four offensive lines powered by some of the quickest centers in the world: Jonathan Towes, Sidney Crosby, Matt Duchene and Patrice Bergeron.”
The Canadians gained another advantage by having their defensemen enter the zone and apply a sustained forecheck that wore out the Americans for minutes on end. The team for the Stars and Stripes was simply undone by its inability to counter with the same style. In fact, the Americans seemed to play far too passively at times, rendering their attempts at a sustained attack few and far between. For now, being depressed is acceptable. But as we all know, the Americans produce and form world-class athletes at a consistent rate. A sense of optimism should be surfacing in the coming months. I’m talking to you, 2018. America is coming!