Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

Follow All The Winter Olympics Action Feb. 6-24 on NBC

Team USA Hockey Now a Golden Contender

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    Team USA becomes a contender for the gold medal by beating Canada.

    Sunday night's Olympics hockey shocker, Team USA's 5-3 win over Canada, is already being compared to the 1980 Olympics' "Miracle on Ice" win over the Soviet Union.

    Of course, that 1980 game was actually for a medal. Sunday's upset of heavily-favored Canada was just a preliminary round, non-elimination game. But it gave the U.S. the top seeding in their group, and establishes an easier path for them to the medal rounds.

    In case you missed the big win, NBC has the entire match still available online. A recap video is also available if you just want the goals and highlights, or prefer not to give verification that you pay for your cable TV.

    NHL players were allowed into the Olympics in 1998, but this was the first Olympics since then to be played in a town with an NHL team. The Vancouver Canucks play in that very arena, making it an especially demoralizing home court loss for Canada. "It was an awesome atmosphere," San Jose Shark and Team USA member Joe Pavelski told the Mercury News after the match. "It was right up there with any NHL playoff game."

    Except this time, Pavelski's team won.

    That leaves the USA men's ice hockey team two wins from a medal, and three wins from the gold medal. They'll play again Wednesday against the winner of the Switzerland vs. Belarus qualifier, in a match that will be broadcast live online and at 3 p.m.

    Should they win there, they're in the Playoff Semi-Finals Friday, where winners are assured medals.  A victory Friday would earn a ticket to the gold medal game Sunday at 12:15 PST, otherwise they'd play for the bronze on Saturday night at 7:00 PST.

    And don't get too cocky, Team USA. One of those games could be a rematch with Canada.

    Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who really loves those trashy airbrushed helmets so many of the Olympics goalies are wearing.