USA hockey team beats Canada to start Olympics 2-0 – Queen City News
BEIJING (AP) — It’s no secret that the young United States men’s hockey team is quick and capable.
Turns out, kids can hit too.
Answering all questions raised about their youth and inexperience, the United States took on Canada in a deadly clash between the longtime rivals. Using not only speed and skill, but also a healthy dose of physicality against bigger and stronger opponents, the Americans secured a hard-earned 4-2 victory on Saturday and are undefeated in two games at the Olympics.
“We didn’t back down from their physical play,” said captain Andy Miele, who led the USA with a goal and an assist. “I love the way our team reacted. I’m so proud of this group. We took a beating. They kept going, we kept coming back to them and got the result we deserved.
Thanks to Miele’s answering goal 70 seconds after Canada’s goal and Strauss Mann’s 35 saves, the United States are in control to advance to the quarter-finals. Beating Germany on Sunday night would put the Americans top of the group and could make them the first seed in the knockout round.
With eight players under the age of 21, the United States was one of the toughest teams to figure out in an NHL talentless tournament. The potential for the tournament’s youngest team to expand or collapse was on full display against Canada.
With Claude Julien back behind the bench two weeks after breaking his ribs in a sledding accident, the Canadians figured they’d use their size and physique to wear down the little Americans in 60 minutes. Instead, the United States – with 12 college players on the ice – struck for hits with Canada and used a combination of offensive skill and poor goaltending to take control of the game.
“Kids can play, I think it’s safe to say,” said Kenny Agostino, who scored USA’s fourth goal. “It’s clear that we have a lot of speed and a lot of talent, but I think it was a men’s game tonight: Canada-USA, it really doesn’t need an explanation. I think they all stepped up and played like men there.
There were a few hiccups, like Mann allowing a soft goal to Mat Robinson from the boards at 40 feet at 1:24. Miele’s goal kept USA from playing from behind for too long.
Brian O’Neill, the only returnee from the 2018 Olympics, described an early delay as “good adversity” after beating China 8-0 in the opener. Going up against and beating Canada was a test that USA passed by leaning on strengths like playing fast and adapting to the changing tempo of the game.
“The most important thing for us is to play fast,” said Harvard forward Sean Farrell, who assisted on Ben Meyers’ goal and had six points in two games. “We have a group of guys who can play fast, and if we add that physical component as well, it will be very difficult for teams to get the pucks out, and when we return the pucks, we will have the ability to capitalize.”
Canada also has plenty of skill in the lineup, but goaltender Eddie Pasquale gave the United States a gift when he missed the puck behind the net to set up Brendan Brisson’s second goal of the tournament. He also trembled on Agostino’s goal.
“I fought the puck pretty much all night,” said Pasquale, who allowed four goals on 27 shots. “I gave up two weaklings. If I make those two saves, we’re 2-2 going into extra time.
Instead, Canada will complete the preliminary round against China on Sunday night in hopes of securing one of three other quarter-final berths and avoiding the qualifying round.
“Sometimes you ask your players to have short memories,” Julien said. “And that’s what we have to have. At the same time, you have to remember why we lost this game and make sure it doesn’t happen again in the next one.
NOTES: The United States and Canada met in the Olympics for the first time since the semifinals of the Sochi Games in 2014, the last time NHL players played. Canada won that game 1-0 en route to a second consecutive gold medal. … American defenseman Jake Sanderson played 16:59 in his first game at the Olympiques. He had arrived in Beijing late after being blocked in Los Angeles under the anti-virus protocol.