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United States ice hockey team stuns hosts Canada

Canada v USA

Ice hockey round-up - Day 10

Hosts Canada suffered a shock 5-3 loss to the United States in the ice hockey showdown at the Winter Olympics.

The US went ahead after just 41 seconds through Brian Rafalski in the Group A qualifier at Canada Hockey Place.

Eric Staal levelled before Rafalski scored again in the first period to stun most of the 18,000 crowd.

Dany Heatley equalised but Chris Drury and Jamie Langenbrunner put the US two clear and Ryan Kesler sealed victory after a Sidney Crosby consolation.

The USA have now won all three of their round-robin matches and will progress straight to the quarter-finals. Canada, who beat Norway and made hard work of their win over Switzerland, must play again on Tuesday in play-off qualifying.

"It is probably not where we wanted to be coming in, but that is where we are now," said Crosby. "When you get to this point in the tournament it is not going to be easy and the fact we have to play an extra game isn't a terrible thing and we will be ready for it."

All 12 teams will play in the knockout stages where they are seeded according to their group-round record.

To beat Canada on their own soil is special

USA forward Ryan Kesler

America's last victory over Canada at an Olympics was at the 1960 Squaw Valley Games when they clinched a 2-1 win.

The stadium was a sea of red-shirted home fans for what was being billed as one of the most-anticipated clashes in Canadian hockey history.

Banners proclaiming "Our home, our game" were displayed by partisan supporters who swamped the scattered pockets of USA fans.

But despite a rousing appearance by Canada's first ever Olympic gold medallist on home soil, moguls skier Alexandre Bilodeau, the hosts fell behind inside a minute when Rafalski fired past veteran goalkeeper Martin Brodeur.

Staal ignited the crowd with the equaliser with 11.07 minutes left on the clock in the first of the three 20-minute periods.

American players celebrate in the match against Canada
American players celebrate in the match against Canada

But within 22 seconds, Rafalski beat the 37-year-old Brodeur again, and despite outshooting their rivals 19-6 in the first period, Canada went into the break 2-1 down, with US keeper Ryan Miller making 18 saves.

After the interval, 29-year-old Heatley added a second for Canada but with four minutes left of the period, Drury, of the New York Rangers, gave his side the lead again.

Another Canadian gold medallist at these Games, skeleton slider Jon Montgomery was introduced to the crowd in the next break, but Canada looked down and out when Langenbrunner opened up a two-goal lead with a power-play goal for the USA halfway through the third period.

The hosts hit back, though, and enjoyed a spell of mounting pressure late on, with 22-year-old Canadian ice hockey pin-up Crosby narrowing the gap to 4-3 on a power play with four minutes left.

Noise levels built to ear-shattering proportions in a frenzied finale, but Miller held firm, pulling off 42 saves in total, and Canadian hearts were broken when Kesler steered the puck into an empty net inside the final minute.

"We had chances in the game, some hard chances. In the third period we had a lot of powerplays but we just ran out of time," said Crosby.

"Ryan Miller was really solid and made some big saves. Sometimes you run into a hot goalie but we had some bad luck sometimes."

Kesler said: "To come out with the win is pretty special. To beat Canada on their own soil is special."



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see also
Ice hockey round-up - Day 10
22 Feb 10 |  Ice hockey
Winter Olympics day 10 photos
21 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
As it happened - Winter Olympics day 10
21 Feb 10 |  Live coverage
Russia progress after beating Czechs
22 Feb 10 |  Ice hockey
Winter Olympics weather
26 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010


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