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Friday February 19, 2010 8:17 am

Competition couldn’t be higher in men’s hockey

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Editorial, Olympics,

Mark StreitNow this is a tournament. Last night, the “unstoppable” Canadian men’s hockey team was almost defeated for the second time in two games by the Swiss team. They managed to pull off a shootout victory in a game that was supposed to be won by the end of the first period. This is the same story we’ve seen throughout the first few games of this Olympic tournament, and it couldn’t be more exciting to watch.

The only country to compete for a medal in each of the last three Olympics has been Russia, and they only managed to win one of them, defeating Belarus 7-2 in 2002 to capture bronze. The Czechs won gold in Nagano and bronze in Turin, while Finland captured bronze in Nagano and silver at Turin. No other nation has competed for a medal more than once. In the last three gold medal games, there have been six different nations represented with three different winners.

The level of competition on the men’s side of ice hockey is certainly furious, and despite what the Canadians would have the world believe, they might not be the world’s hockey superpower after all. The Russians have been the most consistent contenders at the Olympics, and that, combined with their international success since Salt Lake, have them ranked No.1 in the world by the IIHF, just a handful of points ahead of Canada.

A tournament this short is a tournament of goaltenders. The team with the most all-stars isn’t necessarily going to breeze through. Whoever finds the best netminder will go home – or back to their NHL city – with gold around their neck. Whether it’s the host Canadians, young Americans, powerful Russians, fast Czechs, or whoever. This is how an international tournament should be, and it could not be more appropriate that it’s happening on a world stage. The most exciting part comes next week, when each series becomes a best-of-one, when if a team isn’t the better team for sixty minutes, they’ll have to make that long, sad trip home.



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