Fans of the U.S. men’s hockey team got a long-awaited taste of what a win against Canada feels like.
The two teams did not play each other in the 2018 PyeongChang Games, but the two nations faced off Saturday in the preliminary round. The U.S. won 4-2, their first victory over Canada at the Olympics since 2010.
It wasn’t an ideal start for the Americans. The Canadians struck first after Greenwich, Connecticut, native Strauss Mann allowed a very stoppable Mat Robinson shot through his five-hole, but the U.S. responded quickly when Andy Miele roofed a slick backhander past Edward Pasquale just over a minute later to tie it.
Ben Meyers then gave the Americans the lead with 1:16 remaining in the opening stanza with a quick shot through heavy traffic at the netfront.
The U.S. got a significant reinforcement on the blue line with the addition of Jake Sanderson to the lineup, and Sanderson played a key role on the Americans’ second goal after he forced a Canada turnover in the neutral zone, putting him in position to earn a secondary assist on the marker.
Sanderson was late arriving to the Olympics after being placed in Covid-19 protocols last week, but the 19-year-old arrived at the Games just in time to suit up in Friday night’s tilt.
The Americans built on their lead early in the middle period when Brendan Brisson, who scored his second goal in as many games, put the U.S. up 3-1. Pasquale misplayed a puck behind his own net that resulted in a turnover, and Nick Shore swept in and fed the lurking Brisson to double the U.S. advantage.
Momentum shifted back in Canada’s favor not long after the game’s midway point, though. After the Canadians took a penalty for too many men, Corban Knight scored shorthanded following an ill-advised pinch by U.S. forward Matty Beniers in the attacking zone.
Canada then came within inches of tying the contest with time dying down in the second period, but the Americans survived the Canadians’ offensive surge to take their one-goal lead into the intermission.
Luckily for the U.S., a bomb from Kenny Agostino squeaked past Pasquale a little over six minutes into the final third, putting the U.S. back up by a pair of markers.
Mann, though his game didn’t get off to a great start, stopped all 17 shots fired his way in the third period to lead the Americans to victory, finishing the tilt with an impressive 35 saves. Not a bad Olympic debut for the 23-year-old.
The U.S. will take on Germany on Sunday to wrap up their batch preliminary games. Canada will play their final game of group play Sunday against China.