If there’s one thing Canada is good at, it’s taking a joke. If there are two things, they’re taking a joke and hockey. However, Sunday’s matchup between the United States and our Neighbors to the North, on the 2010 Winter Olympics stage, proved that the latter has some serious competition for the title of international hockey victor—if that is, in fact, a title. Virtually rock-solid goaltending, a cohesive offensive line, and plentiful helpings of pregame apple pie led to the Americans upsetting the Canadians, 5-3, in a dramatic reassertion of USA’s dominance just about everywhere.
America, heretofore considered to take hockey about as seriously as Keanu Reeves—who, unsurprisingly, spent a large part of his early life in Canada—benefited from a roster of relatively few big names. The pivotal players on our side were the ones who had either participated in the last Winter Olympics or should have. Goalie Ryan Miller belongs in the latter category, and certainly showed his mettle with 42 saves, a truly superhuman performance. While Canadian goalie Martin Brodeur—whose last name literally means “embroiderer;” I mean, really?—displayed his usual puck prowess, we simply outmatched him. Some of my friends wondered why Canada played The Embroiderer and not Roberto Luongo, the Vancouver Canucks netminder who probably feels more comfortable playing on his home rink. With him in goal, perhaps the outcome might have been different. If, in the last minutes of the game, Canada had not chosen to pull their goalie in order to have an extra offender, perhaps they would have found a way to tie the game.
But enough of these “What ifs” and “If onlys.” The only “if” is, I don’t know if Canada’s most obnoxious hockey player, Sidney Crosby, will ever be able to play again. Often regarded as the zit on the face of the National Hockey League, Crosby did put up one goal but otherwise floundered, to the dismay of millions of his homeland’s fans—the blow to his ego was felt from miles away.
Don’t get me wrong: Canada hasn’t gone the way of most other countries in terms of Olympic submission. It consistently boasts impressive medal counts. But Sunday’s game was a wake-up call to a team that can usually be counted on for excellence. Newsflash, world: America bought skates.