The U.S. Men's Hockey Team made a strong statement in their opening game against Switzerland; we may be young but we're good. All three goal scorers for the American's tallied their first Olympic marker.
After a tight first period, Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks scored on his fellow Duck Jonas Hiller with just over a minute remaining in the period. Ryan's expression upon scoring was that of intense relief and excitement, pounding the glass and high-fiving his teammates. The Americans followed with a strong 2nd period, out-shooting the Swiss 22 to 9 through 2 periods.
David Backes bolstered the American lead just over 5 minutes into the second with a great individual effort. After Thierry Paterlini fanned on a backhander in front of a sprawled out Ryan Miller, Backes swept the puck out of the zone, skated it up ice, went forehand-backhand and beat Jonas Hiller. Less than 3 minutes later Ryan Malone made the lead 3-0 on the powerplay with Raffaele Sannitz in the box for hooking. By comparison team U.S.A. was much more disciplined, taking no penalties through two periods.
The third period started off rough for the Americans, taking 2 penalties before the 9 minute mark. First it was Joe Pavelski for hooking, followed by Ryan Suter for roughing. The Swiss managed their only goal of the game on the powerplay. Roman Wick scored for the Swiss with an assist going to Islanders defenseman Mark Streit. The Swiss managed 6 shots in the 3rd period, tripling the U.S. team's 2 shots.
Ryan Miller only faced 15 shots during the contest. Jonas Hiller of Switzerland faced 24 shots in all.
The American team far outmatched the Swiss in terms of talent with their entire roster playing for NHL clubs. NHL netminder Jonas Hiller in goal, Mark Streit is the lone NHL skater for the Swiss. Fellow defenseman Luca Sbisa has logged time for the Anaheim Ducks this season yet is currently playing for their AHL affiliate.
The NHL player-advantage may have been even greater with the contest being held on an NHL sized rink as opposed to the larger surface typical of Olympic play.
The U.S. returns to action on Thursday the 18th against Norway at 12pm PT. The Norwegians are coming fresh off their 8-0 destruction at the hands of the juggernaut Canadian team. All signs point to the U.S. escaping the prelims with a record of 2-1, with a loss to the Canadians all but imminent. A win would not only fulfill Ryan Kesler's promise to defeat the Canadians, but would show the U.S. team is far ahead of schedule in terms of their competitiveness with world competition.
One can dream, right?
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney