VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The United States pulled off its biggest Olympic hockey upset since the Miracle on Ice, stunning Canada 5-3 on Sunday to advance to the quarterfinals of an already mixed-up tournament.
Brian Rafalski scored two goals and set up another, and Ryan Miller held off a flurry of shots to lead the Americans.
Article continues below ...
One day short of the 30th anniversary of the country’s greatest hockey victory — the unfathomable win over the Soviet Union in Lake Placid — these underrated Americans were faster, more disciplined and more determined than Canada’s collection of all-stars.
Canada outshot the U.S. 45-22 yet couldn’t badly dent Miller, the goalie the Americans felt could best stand up to all of Canada’s might. He did just that, making 42 saves in the victory of a lifetime.
These Americans didn’t believe in miracles. They just believed.
Depending on the later Finland-Sweden game that concluded hockey’s Super Sunday in Vancouver, the United States could go into Wednesday’s quarterfinals not only as a group winner but as the top-seeded team, something almost no one predicted when the tournament began.
Chris Drury, a former Little League World Series star, and Jamie Langenbrunner scored to put the U.S. up 4-2 and hold off a relentless late surge by Canada that included Sidney Crosby’s power play goal with 3:09 remaining.
Miller made an exceptional save on Rick Nash’s shot from the slot with two minutes left to preserve it, and Ryan Kesler put it away by swiping in an empty-net goal with one hand with 45 seconds remaining.
Rafalski, Langenbrunner and Drury are three of the older, steadying hands on one of the youngest U.S. Olympic teams in history, one that averages 5 years younger per man than the 2006 team that didn’t medal in Turin.
Canada, the gold-medal favorite, was expected to coast into the medal round. But now, after nearly losing to Switzerland and being outplayed on home ice by the Americans, it must win a play-in game Tuesday to reach the quarterfinals. The Canadians still have a chance to win a gold medal, but now face a much tougher road that would include an additional game.