The remaining matchups look extremely appealing, and a potential semifinal meeting between the US and Canada looms large. For that to happen, the Americans need to beat the Czech Republic, while Canada will have to defeat Latvia. Both matches will be challenging for the favorites, and the Czechs and the Latvians are dangerous dark horses. If the Czechs can get goals from Jaromir Jagr and the Latvians can repeat their success, anything is possible.
On the other side of the bracket, Sweden should coast into semifinals, where it will play the winner of a riveting Russia-Finland quarterfinal game. No matter how the results turn out, there will probably be a North American-European continental clash for the gold. And if the matchup ends up being a US-Russia rematch, we are all in for a spectacle.
Moreover, the women’s hockey tournament has been impressive in its own right, as the US will play Canada for gold this Thursday. The teams met in a sensational preliminary match last Wednesday, and the Canadians scored three third-period goals to rally for a 3-2 victory. Neither team has been tested in their other matches, with the Americans coming off a 6-1 romp over Sweden in the semifinals. Canada has won the past three Olympic finals between the squads, so the American women are eager for revenge. The women’s tournament also saw Switzerland make a Cinderella run to medal contention. After losing its first two games by a combined 14-0 against the US and Canada, Switzerland stunned Russia with a 2-0 win in the quarterfinals. Swiss goalie Florence Schelling stopped 41 Russian shots, and an empty-net goal clinched the upset win. Even though Canada beat the Swiss 3-1, the Swiss held their own for most of the game.
The quality of this Olympics’ hockey has been stellar. And with the best yet to come, I advise waking up early to watch the action while you can.
— Dominic Kearns