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US hockey team fueled by 'bitter memories' of 2010

Updated: 2014-02-13 08:29
By Agence France-Presse in Sochi, Russia ( China Daily)

Zach Parise and his US teammates have some unfinished business to take care of in Sochi after coming within a goal of striking Olympic gold four years ago in Vancouver.

The memory of their 3-2 loss in the gold medal game, when Sidney Crosby scored in overtime for Team Canada, is still fresh in their minds.

"We came so close in Vancouver," said Parise. "It was a tough way for us to finish.

"We know that just because we finished second the last time there is no guarantee we are going to get back to the gold medal game. A lot of things have to go right."

The Americans might not have the star power on offense that Canada, Russia or even Sweden boasts, but they have the kind of strong goaltending that is key for any team hoping to make a run at a medal.

The 2010 silver medalists will likely go with Jonathan Quick as their No 1 netminder, backed up by Ryan Miller and Jimmy Howard.

Meanwhile, star forward Patrick Kane could turn out to be the biggest game-breaker of the tournament for any team.

Kane was the best forward for the US in Vancouver and he anchors an explosive powerplay that also includes Dustin Brown and Parise.

Kane, who has won two Stanley Cup championships with the Chicago Blackhawks, said he is going to be even more focused in Sochi.

"The 2010 gold medal game was special, but I was young and naive. I didn't realize how big a game it was at the time, so it would be nice to get back in that situation," he said.

Kane has 27 goals and 63 points in 59 games with the Blackhawks this season.

Defenseman Brown said he still has "bitter memories" of losing to Canada in sudden-death overtime.

"Sometimes a loss motivates you more than anything else," Brown said. "I keep it in the back of my mind.

"In 2010 no one gave us a chance. It is always about the expectations you put on each other in the dressing room. We are itching to play at an Olympic level."

The Americans are in the difficult Group A with Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia. They will play one of the most anticipated games of the preliminary round when they face Russia on Saturday.

"The Olympics is a place you can make a name for yourself," said associate general manager Ray Shero. "The guys will be ready."

The US will be without general manager David Poile, who couldn't make the trip to Sochi after undergoing surgery for injuries sustained when he was struck by a puck last week.

Poile, who also serves as GM for the NHL's Nashville Predators, required surgery for damage to an eye and received stitches for a deep cut to his face.

Poile was standing in a tunnel area just off the ice surface during a Predators practice when a hard pass by defenseman Shea Weber, who will play for Canada at the Olympics, sailed over the boards.

Weber said his pass deflected off a teammate's stick.

"The puck flew into the tunnel where David was. It is very unfortunate to see that happen in a practice, especially when it's the GM that gets hurt," Weber said on Tuesday.

Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of USA Hockey, said Poile will be missed.

"David is getting the medical attention he needs back in Nashville," said Johannson.

"We are going to miss his input, but we are in communication."

 US hockey team fueled by 'bitter memories' of 2010

Power forward Patrick Kane is expected to provide plenty of offense for Team USA in the Olympic hockey tournament. John Gress // Reuters / Files

(China Daily 02/13/2014 page23)