The 2014 Winter Olympics have lived up to their lofty expectations, but few events have been as exciting as the men’s and women’s ice hockey tournaments.
With so many competitive teams and talented players, there has been no shortage of intrigue. Team USA is dominating on the men’s side, and the women’s representatives for the United States are proving they are serious gold-medal contenders. As a result, it’s a great time to be a fan of American hockey at the international level.
Here are the latest standings for group play and the scores for the best games of Day 9.
Source: NBCOlympics.com and Sochi2014.com
Source: NBCOlympics.com and Sochi2014.com
Updated Tournament Bracket
James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail shared the official men's tournament bracket:
A final version of the Olympic hockey bracket going into elimination round pic.twitter.com/HhKBRJnZmb— James Mirtle (@mirtle) February 16, 2014
Team USA’s Men Dominate Again
Final Score: United States 5, Slovenia 1 (Box Score via NBCOlympics.com)
The United States’ men have one of the strongest rosters in the 2014 Olympics Games, and the hero in Sunday’s matchup against Slovenia was Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel.
Kessel managed two goals on his first two shots of the game and gave Team USA the early lead. While many players would mail in their effort after so much early success, he added yet another goal in the second period.
USA Hockey shared how rare Kessel’s performance was on Twitter:
Phil Kessel scores the first Olympic hat trick for the U.S. since John LeClair in 2002. #DawnsEarlyLight— USA Hockey (@usahockey) February 16, 2014
Up next for Team USA will be a direct pass into the quarterfinals to play the winner of the qualifying matchup between the Czech Republic and Slovakia on Wednesday.
The Americans defeated Slovenia and Slovakia in regulation and managed to beat Russia in an overtime thriller in the group round. With their perfect record, the Americans will be the No. 2 overall seed, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie:
Olympic standings: 1. SWE 2. USA 3. Winner of CAN/FIN 4. Loser of CAN/FIN 5. RUS 6. SUI 7. CZE 8. SLO 9. AUT 10. SVK 11. LAT 12. NOR— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 16, 2014
While the first elimination matchup for the Americans hasn’t been decided yet, the confidence level is as high as ever after a dominant win on Sunday.
Team Canada Holds on for Overtime Win
Final Score: Canada 2, Finland 1 (Box Score via NBCOlympics.com)
The Canadian team was supposed to dominate Team Finland in the final game of group play, but after regulation time was over and the teams remained tied 1-1, it was clear that the Canadians weren’t as dominant as many had projected.
Canadian defender Drew Doughty once again stole the show with two goals—including the game-winning tally in overtime—and helped lead the team at both ends of the ice. While the Canadians looked strong throughout the contest, eventually winning 2-1, there were issues of chemistry with so much talent.
Head coach Mike Babcock told Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com about choosing the lineups for each game with a roster as deep as Team Canada’s:
It's way harder, it's ridiculous actually. You tell an athlete who competed hard and did things right that he's not playing. That's no fun. If you're [Sharp] for example, you're a high-, high-end player. I grab him when he's walking in today to tell him that he's not playing and he doesn't ask me why. It's good he doesn't ask me why because I've got no reason why. That's not something I look forward to at all. These are good men, good people that are giving their time to represent Canada. It's got to be hard on them.
Team Canada has an automatic bid into the quarterfinals and will play the winner of the battle between Switzerland and Latvia on Wednesday.
The Canadians would have won the second seed if the team could have pulled out a regulation victory Sunday, but it will have to settle for the No. 3 seed. The current standings also indicate that Team Canada would only play Team USA in the gold-medal matchup, which would no doubt provide loads of entertainment and feature plenty of NHL talent.
That's easier said than done, though.
Update Medal Count