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Olympics-Ice hockey-U.S. speeds past Canada to top of Group A

Randy Mancini 3 Feb 12
Ice Hockey - Men's Prelim. Round - Group A - Canada v United States
2022 Beijing Olympics - Ice Hockey - Men's Prelim. Round - Group A - Canada v United States - National Indoor Stadium, Beijing, China - February 12, 2022. Ben Meyers of the United States in action with Mason Mctavish of Canada. REUTERS/David W Cerny

February 12, 2022

By Steve Keating

BEIJING (Reuters) – A speedy United States raced past Canada 4-2 to win the battle of North American neighbours in men’s ice hockey at the Beijing Winter Games on Saturday.

The victory put the unbeaten U.S. on top of the Group A standings with record of 2-0 while Canada dropped to 1-1 and now must face the possibility of playing in the qualification round.

The game was a contrast in philosophies and styles with the U.S. mounting their gold medal challenge around a young energetic core of 15 college players.

Canada, meanwhile, is going with a mix of youth and experience with 17-year National Hockey League veteran Eric Staal at one end of the spectrum and Owen Power, the number one overall pick in the 2021 NHL draft at the other.

At the National Indoor Arena on Saturday, speed trumped size and experience as the U.S. spotted Canada a 1-0 lead then struck for three goals to take control and never let go.

“They were quick, we knew that, we talked about it,” said Staal, a member of Canada’s 2010 Vancouver Olympics gold medal winning team. “We knew they were going to be quick on pucks and some of the decision making we could have executed better and been a little more physical but they were quick.

“Today wasn’t our day but we’ll try to get better.”

From the opening faceoff the contest was played a furious pace with Matt Robinson getting Canada on the scoreboard first.

But the U.S. speed would cause headaches for the Canadians all afternoon as the Americans struck for three straight goals, with Andy Miele scoring on their first shot flipping a nifty backhand over Eddie Pasquale.

Ben Meyers would give the U.S. the lead before the end of the period with Brendan Brisson increasing the advantage to 3-1 early in the second.

A short-handed effort from Canada’s Corban Knight trimmed the U.S. advantage to one going into the final frame but a Kenny Agostino slap shot restored the two goal cushion.

“Obviously a huge rivalry in hockey,” said U.S. forward Matt Knies. “To be on this side of it, it’s definitely a good moment, something I’m never going to forget.

“They played a physical game, and I think we matched them.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Beijing, additional reporting Tony Munroe; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)