Erik Johnson fights for the puck and was in the middle of the celebration for the Americans' empty net goal that sealed the victory Wednesday against the Swiss.
Wednesday afternoon while Team America was throttling the Swiss with shots on goal and scoring chances while still only managing a 2-0 win, the red-clad fans filling the arena made sure to let the players on the ice know who they were rooting for. And it wasn't anyone from the United States.
I get it. The loss on Sunday by Team Canada to the U.S. sealed the hosts' fate and the eventual showdown with Russia tonight in the quarterfinals of the Olympic tournament. Yet they were essentially rooting for the Swiss team that took Canada to extra rounds of a shootout, also downgrading Canada's place in the tourney standings. I guess it's hard to boo the people who make such tasty chocolate, cheese and hot cocoa.
Having the home country boo the Americans is rather fitting. No one gave Team America a shot at the gold medal game much less any medal. Here they sit, one more win from ensuring a medal and a chance to play for gold on Sunday. The squad was built by a guy who likes to talk about truculence. He valued grit and determination over flash. Wins like the victory over Switzerland are all about perseverance and not letting up. The Swiss could have won the game Wednesday if the Americans had made more mistakes or took the game for granted. They didn't. The young team held together, didn't get frustrated by not one but two disallowed goals and kept their smarts. Of course Ryan Miller still being on his game helped too.
Now I can't wait for Friday against either the Czechs or the Finns. I don't care which. Give these Canadian hosers another team that will be cheered as soon as possible. Let the bitterness and jealousy come out, Canadian fans. It might help you forget that your team won't play for a medal. And more importantly, you will only push this American team to play harder.