Canada faces tougher road to puck gold

By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency



VANCOUVER - Team USA played Canada tough Sunday night.

Now their road in the Olympic hockey tournament looks a lot smoother.

The Americans wound up with the top seed heading into the elimination games of the tournament, their 5-3 win over Canada at GM Place giving them a perfect 3-0 record and nine points (wins in regulation were worth three points here).

The Americans, along with Sweden, Russia and Finland, all earned byes into Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

Sweden tied the USA with a 3-0 record after Sweden’s 3-0 win over Finland Sunday night, but the USA got the top seed based on goal differential.

Canada’s route to a potential gold medal game got steeper with the loss.

The way it breaks down, Canada has to play Germany Tuesday and with a victory will advance to play Russia in the quarterfinals Wednesday.

That would set up a potential semifinal against Sweden, if the tournament holds to form.

The Americans are looking at Switzerland or Belarus then a potential semfinal against Finland (fourth in the preliminary round), the Czech Republic (fifth) or, in the case of a couple of improbable upsets, Latvia.

You never know, but that’s a much easier road than the one facing Canada, Russia or Sweden.

Tuesday’s elimination round games shape up this way:

5. Czech Republic vs. 12. Latvia

6. Canada vs. 11. Germany

7. Slovakia vs. 10. Norway

8. Switzerland vs. 9. Belarus

Here’s how the quarterfinals Wednesday will shake out:

1. USA vs. winner, Switzerland/Belarus

2. Sweden vs. winner, Slovakia/Norway

3. Russia vs. winner, Canada/Germany

4. Finland vs. winner, Czech Republic/Latvia

Here’s how the semifinals Friday will shape up:

1. Winner, USA vs. Switzerland/Belarus vs. winner, Finland vs. Czech Republic/Latvia

2. Winner, Sweden vs. Slovakia/Norway vs. winner, Russia vs. Canada/Germany

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

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