U.S. win over Swiss an instant classic
For anyone who was at work during the U.S. and Switzerland’s quarterfinal men’s hockey game, hopefully your TiVo was working properly. If you can have a classic at this time in the tournament, these teams just played one. The Americans survived with a 2-0 victory -- one was an empty netter -- and will play for a medal in the Winter Games no matter what happens in the semifinals.
This game had everything. Big hits, video replays, power-play chances and a goaltender that kept the Swiss in the game. Jonas Hiller was fantastic, stopping 43 shots while giving up just a lone Zach Parise goal early in the third period on a U.S. power play. Much of this game was played 0-0 and that only helped build the drama.
Patrick Kane had a quiet afternoon, finishing with four shots in 16:13 of ice time. Kane did have one nice backhand chance as he came out from behind the Swiss net but Hiller made the save.
In most statistical categories the Swiss were outplayed by the Americans but the heart and fundamentals of this scrappy team can’t be overlooked. They played in three shootouts and every one of their games were close. No small feat when playing Canada or the U.S. in three of their five Olympic contests. Here are the final scores for all of Switzerland’s games: 3-1, 3-2, 5-4, 3-2 and, for all practical purposes, 1-0. It was a perfect scenario for an upset. The Americans were coming off their dramatic win over Canada while Switzerland kept plugging away to reach the quarterfinals.
An apparent U.S. goal at the end of the second period was overturned by replay when the clock showed 0.00 just as the puck crossed the line. It was that close. In the third, during one sequence, a Swiss shot had to be reviewed to see if it went in, while moments later a U.S. goal was disallowed after a crosschecking penalty was called on Ryan Kesler as the puck crossed the line. Did I mention it was a great game?
At the end of the day, the Americans’ persistence and lack of panic paid off. Many teams would start to get fancy or push the envelope when unable to score for so long, despite the 44-19 shot advantage. That wasn’t the case on Wednesday and hasn’t been throughout the tournament. Head coach Ron Wilson has pushed all the right buttons.
Next, the U.S. takes on the winner of Finland and the Czech Republic. That game will be on Friday with the winner playing for gold. The dream continues for the young but confident Americans.