Loss stings for upstart Americans

By RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER — This time, the only Miracle the United States could muster forced overtime.

New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise’s tying goal with 24.4 seconds left in the third period simply delayed Canada’s national celebration.

“It really hurts right now,” said Parise, whose dad J.P. played for Canada in the fabled 1972 Summit Series against the Soviets and was at GM Place Sunday. “Going into the dressing room after scoring late, every one of us was confident someone would score again and we were going to win it.

“It just didn’t happen.”

The devastated Americans, though, believe they issued a statement to the country that has denied it two Olympic gold medals in the past eight years.

This was their first loss of the tournament. It was the first time they didn’t open the scoring.

“We proved that’s it’s not just Canada’s game,” said U.S. forward Ryan Kesler, who tipped in his team’s first goal past Vancouver teammate Roberto Luongo. “We took them to overtime. We beat them already (in pool play) and it was anybody’s game.”

The Americans battled back from two goals down. They put a scare in the Sea of Red. They had American troops on their minds, GM Brian Burke’s late son Brendan in their hearts, and magnificent Ryan Miller in net.

It still wasn’t enough to re-create the Lake Placid magic of 30 three years ago, or bring home the U.S’s first men’s hockey gold from foreign ice.

“We all believed, we fought to the end,” Tampa Bay forward Ryan Malone said. “We came for gold so we’re disappointed. We made it to overtime and we were beat by a great play by two great players (Canada’s Sidney Crosby and Jarome Iginla).”

Team Canada forward Jonathan Toews was shocked by Parise’s final-minute heroics. The U.S. had all the momentum heading into overtime.

“I’ve never been in a more stressful game,” said Toews. “Especially when they score like that. It’s a sinking feeling. You have to get rid of it and move on.”

When Miller received his silver medal, he received a roar from the mostly pro-Canada crowd that had taunted him all game.

“We were right there,” the Buffalo Sabres goalie said. “We did everything we possibly could. The thing I’ll remember most is this group of guys and how we came together to give ourselves this opportunity.”

Had Patrick Kane’s first-period chance crossed the goal-line, Parise’s late goal would’ve been the winner.

“You saw how it went in the world junior final this year,” said Parise. “Canada scored a goal late, but the U.S. came back to win it in overtime. We were solid and I thought it was our game to win.”

But on this day, they ran short on miracles.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

POLL