Thirty-four years ago, the hockey world was astonished when a group of American college players stunned the Soviet Union 4-3 in the Lake Placid Olympics.
Forever known as the "Miracle on Ice," it was and remains the most important game in the history of USA Hockey. Without that miracle, Saturday’s 3-2 American shootout victory over the Russians in the Sochi would not have occurred.
Hockey fans in this country will always be grateful to the 1980 U.S. Olympic team — the very foundation of American hockey. Keeping that in mind, Saturday’s game between Team USA and Team Russia was hockey at its best.
It was up-and-down game that featured the skill set of Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk and the shootout prowess of American T.J. Oshie.
The Red Wings’ Datsyuk, showing no signs of being hampered by a wonky left knee, paced Russia’s attack, scoring both regulation goals and notching another in three shootout attempts.
But it was Oshie who became the star of this game and an American hockey hero. Because international rules allow a player to shoot multiple times in a shootout, Oshie went 4-of-6 and eventually sealed the game for the Americans.
Each team had glorious scoring opportunities to win in regulation and overtime. It appeared that Russia got the go-ahead goal late in the third period, but the net was off its moorings, nullifying the goal — a huge break for the Americans.
Besides Oshie’s heroics, Joe Pavelski and Cam Fowler of Farmington Hills scored for Team USA. Livonia’s Ryan Kesler had an excellent game and won a key face-off that set up Pavelski’s goal.
Up next for Team USA will be a clash against Slovenia on Sunday. Team Russia will try to rebound from their tough loss in a game against Slovakia, which will also be played on Sunday.
In other Olympic action, Team Slovakia has scored only two goals in two tournament games, but the goals have come from two Red Wings. Tomas Tartar scored against Team USA in Thursday’s 7-1 loss, and Tomas Jurco scored in a 3-1 loss to Slovenia on Saturday.
Later Saturday, the Red Wings’ Daniel Alfredsson scored a go-ahead goal late in the second period and Sweden went on to beat Latvia 5-3, staying undefeated and earning an automatic spot in hockey quarterfinals at the Olympics. In Friday’s 1-0 victory Switzerland, Sweden’s lone and winning goal was also scored by Alfredsson.