Both the men and women’s USA Olympic hockey teams had very high expectations entering Sochi in these 2014 Winter Olympics. However, both left with tremendous disappointment after losing to our neighbors from up north. The Canadian men’s and women’s national teams ended the hopes and dreams for the United States in dramatic fashion.
First, the women lost a heartbreaker to Canada with a score of 2-3 in overtime in the Gold Medal game, leaving them with consolation prize of silver medals. That was then followed by the men losing to Canada in the semifinal round of play with a score of 0-1. Although they both lost by one goal, the women at least brought home a medal while the men ended up being throttled by Finland in the Bronze Medal game, 5-0 and having nothing to show for their efforts in Russia. With all of the anticipation leading up to the games, it’s fair to say that citizens back home thought it would be a sure thing for both squads to bring back medals. But after squandering numerous opportunities with shots on goals and not taking advantage of great defensive play by goalie, Jonathan Quick, the U.S. suffered a devastating loss to Canada then did absolutely nothing against Finland. “It feels like we have played this tournament for nothing,” forward Paul Stastny concluded after his teammates left Olympus with pins and postcards after absorbing a 5-0 flogging from the Finns in the bronze-medal match inside the Bolshoy Ice Dome that arguably was the most humiliating US loss since the Yanks first suited up at the Games 94 years ago.
The Americans will do whatever it takes to win a medal, as long as it’s gold. Historically they’ve played for the bronze as if it’s a subway token. In 1992, after they lost by three goals to the Unified Team in Albertville, they took a 6-1 beat down from the Czechs. In 1976 after they lost, 4-1, to the West Germans, a half dozen players brawled with locals in an Innsbruck tavern. For those who remain optimistic about our country’s hockey team, there is always the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea to look forward to. It will give us a chance to rebound in not just hockey, but in the other competitions as well.
In the overall medal standings, the U.S. finished fourth with a total of 28 medals (9 gold, 7 silver and 12 bronze). We were four behind Russia who had the most gold medals with 13. We certainly did not handle our business this year in Sochi as a whole. Whether we want to blame it on a lack of urgency to care about winter games or the growth of other countries in these kinds of competitions, our nation should always be amongst the most dominant in all athletic competitions. It’s been in our country’s collective DNA since the 19th century when we first developed the habits of consistently winning in competitive arenas. In a microcosm, the way our hockey teams performed this last winter summed up how we did as a nation in the 2014 Winter Olympics: came up short and fell flat when it mattered most.