I love the Italian hockey fans for cheering the way they did in their games (both men and women’s) against Canada. Nobody left the arena no matter what the score was, and at the end of the game they cheered as if the Italians had won. I haven’t heard such a passionate crowd in years. Even in playoff hockey if the game is winding down and it’s clear your team won’t be winning you have the thought of leaving.
I am also an American (as if my name didn’t exactly give it away) and while I’m disappointed the American women will only be playing for bronze, I think it’s good that Sweden won. I only wish Canada had fallen too, just to show that both hockey “superpowers” could be beaten. I really hope Sweden can pull off the upset too, it would be great for women’s hockey to see a team defeat both Goliaths to win gold. The Swedes have possibly the best women’s goalie in the world (and my personal favorite) as well as some scoring punch and toughness. Canada will be a tough team to hold down, but I at the very least hope it comes down to the wire, not a Canadian blowout.
And while I’m on the topic of upsets, how can I not comment on the Swiss men’s team? I am seriously considering tracking down a Swiss newspaper from the last few days, the article is probably amazing regardless of whether or not I can read it. They are nowhere near the most talented team, but maybe the toughest team. Stellar goaltending can beat anyone, strong defense and good, tough hockey will score you a few goals. I wish I believed that some of the Swiss players were good enough to be in the NHL, but beyond the 3 that are, I don’t know. Paul Dipietro has proven he’s still got skill, but at age 35 the NHL might be too fast for him. If the Swiss men prove anything though it’s that a team based approach is tough to beat. Just going out there and playing hard for 60 minutes, combined with the amazing goaltending they’ve gotten out of Gerber in particular (I knew I liked this guy) can beat anyone. I want to see the Swiss challenge for a medal. I liken this situation to the USA basketball Dream Team of the early 90’s. We put the absolute best in the world on the floor against players who wanted their autographs. Now, roughly 10 years later we’re seeing these countries give us hell both on the hardwood and the ice.]]>