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BREAKING NEWS

Struggling with Canada’s Olympic hockey win

I hate Canada.

Actually, I think most of their laws are reasonable, their people (for the most part) friendly and what little of their scenery I’ve seen (Niagara Falls) nice.

Hate is a strong word. Canada is a big, diverse country. It’s not a monolith.

I don’t hate Canada.

I hate Canada’s national hockey teams.

Both teams, women’s and men’s, won gold in Sochi. That’s not why I hate them. (OK, it might be a small part of why I hate them.) I hate them because they are responsible for the failure of the American teams.

No, it wasn’t coaching, on-ice execution, letting the opposing teams set up lemonade stands in Jonathan Quick’s crease or lack of chemistry – it was the Canadians.

I blame Canada.

I admit to glee over the women’s 2-0 lead over the Canadians going into the last 10 minutes of the gold medal game. I may have cackled and said something about a river of tears gushing from the north.

When the Canadians scored to make it 2-1, I was OK. Nervous, but confident the Americans would win. They took pity on the Canadians and let them have a measly point.

What I didn’t know was that point was the pebble that started a landslide. It was followed by America whiffing on the empty net – only 2 inches – then the Canadians scoring with 45 seconds left in the game. The referees gave the Canadians a five-on-four during the sudden-death overtime in a series of incomprehensible calls.

On second thought, I blame Canada and the referees. No, I’m not bitter. Why do you ask?

I was chewing my fingers to bits while watching this in the newsroom – as I told my colleagues, Olympic hockey only comes around once every four years, something those of you reading about it for the third week in a row can take comfort in – when Publisher Alex strolled in.

“Your feed is behind,” he said. “The game is over. Canada won.”

“Shut up. You lie.”

The Canadians promptly scored, making a liar out of me.

Now that I think about it, I blame the Canadians, referees and Alex.

The next day, I sought sweet redemption. OK, I sought revenge. Revenge for the women’s team. Revenge for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

I knew the men would win their quarter final game against Canada and move on to the gold medal game.

The American team had dominated and the Canadian team had been … lackadaisical?

That’s how it felt, anyway. The Canadian press was losing their collective mind, although Carey Price and the Canadian defense allowed only three goals until that point – and wouldn’t allow another for the rest of the tournament.

Meanwhile, the American team had scored a dazzling 20 goals to Canada’s 13 and only allowed six goals in four games. (Twice as many as Canada, but look at that goal differential!)

The men’s game was a lock.

Until it wasn’t. Canada’s defense was so smothering, their goaltender set up a hammock in his net and took a nap.

The Canadian team broke the Americans’ will to live or, at least, to play a decent game of hockey, as demonstrated by the subsequent 5-0 shellacking the Finns laid on them, led by ageless vampire Teemu Selanne.

It was ride or die with Team Sweden in the gold medal game. Anyone but the hated Canadians.

It was die with goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who looked so sad by the end of the game, you would have thought he just got the news he’d been traded to the bottom-dwelling Buffalo Sabres instead of winning silver in the Olympics.

I feel you, Hank. If only I had found a Swedish flag at Ikea, you would have won. If you’re keeping count at home, the Canadian win was the fault of Alex, the referees and Ikea.

My only comfort in watching Sidney Crosby collect a second gold medal from the comfort of my couch was knowing, somewhere in Philadelphia, Claude Giroux was doing the same thing, only crying even harder.

(Wallace-Minger, a resident of Weirton, is the community editor of The Weirton Daily Times.)