A Battle for Hockey Dominance: Canada vs. USA

Left: Wayne Gretzky, Team Canada's Special Advisor; Right: Ron Wilson, Head Coach of Team USA

Tomorrow, at 4:40 PM, Canada Hockey Place will be brimming with nationalistic anxiety, emotional intensity, and sheer excitement as the Canadian Men’s Hockey team faces Team USA in the Group A Preliminary round. An internationally broadcasted battle between neighbouring nations for dominance in hockey – this event is not one to miss.

In the past decade, Canada and the US have seemingly struggled against each other for the gold. Canada succeeded to wrest it away from the Americans in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, defeating the US in the Gold Medal Round, 5-2.

Despite not being as successful in Torino’s 2006 Games, a close match up in skills was evident when Canada placed 7th, and the USA placed 8th, both teams losing in the quarter-final rounds. Team Canada lost 2-0 to Russia; the Americans lost 4-3 against Finland, who later contended for the gold medal.

Although it is only the preliminary round, this match is highly anticipated for two reasons: the fight occurring on home ground, and because of a quickly resurfacing rivalry between both nations. I believe the Canadian rhetoric goes as such: “we may not have a military as strong as yours, but we’d certainly whup you in hockey.”

As both teams are comprised of NHL superstars, the fate of the game is likely to rely heavily on strategy. Team Canada, head coached by Mike Babcock and specially advised by Wayne Gretzky, certainly does not lack skill or strategic expertise, sporting the NHL’s most talented: Scott Neidermayer as captain, powerhouses Jarome Iginla, Rick Nash, Joe Thornton, NHL poster boy Sidney Crosby, and Canuck Roberto Luongo.

However, Team USA reciprocates formidability with sheer athleticism. So far in these Olympic Games, many have praised their speed. Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel and David Backes are among the fastest players on the roster.

American Head Coach Ron Wilson (ironically, also the Head Coach of the Maple Leafs), in my opinion, will try to swiftly punch a hole through Canadian defensive lines, and rain a hockey-blitzkrieg. Also, Team USA’s star defenseman, Brock Orpik, seems to be a response to Canada’s Sidney Crosby, his NHL teammate; his familiarity with Crosby’s playing might pose a threat.

Indeed this match is not one to miss, and will undoubtedly be a close one. You will be able to catch this game on CTV and TSN at 4:40 PM. Go for the Gold, Canada! 

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