You get the feeling that being the underdog to win Vancouver gold suits these youngsters just fine.
Today, the USA Men's Hockey team overcame Switzerland 3-1.
US GM Brian Burke raised some eyebrows by putting together a squad very unlike the traditional "Dream Team" squads put together by their Canadian rivals, or the dreaded Russian squad that featured five man unit line changes in practice yesterday.
Today, Burke's master plan worked. And, if it hadn't been for Roman Wick's bad bounce goal, the U.S., led by Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, would have rolled to a shut out.
The fourth line, of course, opened the scoring. Bobby Ryan scored on a rocket shot from the slot to open the scoring just before the end of the first period after a mainly flat opening frame by both teams.
Ryan was one of the most dominant payers throughout the game, playing on a line with Rangers forwards Chris Drury and Ryan Callahan.
Tampa Bay's Ryan Malone, a classic power forward, scored a power play goal on a line with Toronto's Phil Kessel and San Jose's Joe Pavelski. Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller made the initial stop, but Malone was able to poke it home.
The U.S. team made it 3-0 on a beautiful up ice rush by David Backes.
Honestly, Bobby Ryan's goal might be the definition of this young U.S. squad. With all the talk of skill level, and the giant that is the Canadian team, there is something to be said for putting the right players in the right positions with succinct roles.
A team like Canada has a high skill level, but the Canadian coaching staff will be asking a top flight player to play a specific role in the coming games.
For now, Brian Burke's team looks to be just that—a TEAM.
Also of note:
There are six Ryans on the US Squad: Ryan Malone, Ryan Callahan, Ryan Suter, Ryan Miller, Bobby Ryan, and Ryan Kessler.
Ryan Suter's father, Bob, played on the 1980 Miracle on Ice team. It's the 30th anniversary of that team of college students overcoming the powerhouse Russian squad on their way to grab the gold that year.
The coaching staff indicated that the 1980 win was not the best perspective for this young squad to have, preferring to use the 1996 World Cup team as inspiration for their team.