A few more minutes on Friday night and it very well may have been a very different match up this final Olympic Sunday in Vancouver, Slovakia which for all intents and purposes looked relegated to the Bronze medal game by midway through the second period, battled back and provided some nervous moments for Canadians, coming within a goal post or two of sending Canada into overtime and whatever fate that might have portended.
In the end, Canada's path towards the gold medal game remained in view, a furious final two minutes testing the faith of the heartiest of Team Canada fans but with a victory in hand, the stage was set for Sunday afternoon at the Canada Hockey Place.
Where two of the fiercest rivals in sport today will once again renew acquaintances, as the USA and Canada join battle for Olympic gold.
Canada with twin visions of a hard fought loss to the Americans one week ago combined with the knowledge of just how fast that American attack can lay waste to long sought dreams (ask Finland) will need to summon up every last second of desire and seek to contain an American squad that can match them for speed, physicality and all important goal tending.
Not since a little border skirmish called the War of 1812 has there been this much attention generated towards the meeting of these two nations. The prices for tickets for Sunday's showdown going well beyond Super Bowl benchmarks, the price of a suite at Canada Hockey Place listed at 138,000 dollars enough for a sizeable dent on a mortgage in many Canadian cities (in some an entire house), individual seats range anywhere from 15,000 to 1,000 dollars depending on how close you wish to be to the action.
For Team USA the quest is clear, come out fast knock the Canadians off their game and frustrate their gameplan execution at every instance, the Canadians who were found frequently in the American zone last Sunday have but one ambition, put puck behind Ryan Miller.
It was Miller who last Sunday stymied the Canadians, leaving them to shake their heads by games end sending their coaches to the video room to try and unravel the mystery to the back of the net, expect more traffic in front on Miller on Sunday afternoon, hoping to reduce his vision on those howitzers from the point, looking to bounce in rebounds if such a thing is provided.
For Canada's Roberto Luongo, this is the shot he's been shooting for, the opportunity to lead his country to gold on their own ice, in his very own rink, the script could not be any more fascinating for a finale.
We've been treated to some fascinating hockey over the last thirteen days, the speed of the game amazing, the passion from the players riveting, the drama of the results mesmerizing.
It is only fitting that the final act of these Vancouver Games should bring together two so similar teams, two teams that play the game in the same style, with similar values and the same passions, Wednesday Canada was treated to another chapter in a storied rivalry with Russia, a game that exorcised many of the past demons of Canadian hockey built up over the decades.
Sunday, a rivalry that has grown over the decades as well will resume, not bitter enemies but respectful rivals, with a shared joy of the game and a equal desire to be top of the heap. It should be a most memorable afternoon with which to bring down the curtain on Vancouver's showcase to the world.
Globe and Mail-- It's Canada-USA again, for all the bragging rights
Globe and Mail-- Canada hasn't been as Crosby-centric as predicted
Globe and Mail-- Goalies have the game - and the gold - in their hands
Globe and Mail-- Luongo gets his shot at gold this time
Globe and Mail-- Canadian fans embrace rivalry with United States
Globe and Mail-- Babcock: 'Olympics more intense than NHL playoffs'
Globe and Mail-- United States looking to make history versus Canada
Globe and Mail-- Americans ready for clash in hostile conditions
Globe and Mail-- Luck could play a role in Canada-USA hockey game
Globe and Mail-- USA vs Canada: The rubber match
National Post/CBC-- Pressure game for Canada, U.S.
National Post/CBC-- U.S. is all that stands in Canada's way
National Post/CBC-- Might want to make sure it's actually Ryan Miller next time
National Post/CBC-- Babcock wants win, not miracles
National Post/CBC-- Staal 'thrives for these situations'
National Post/CBC-- Scouting the gold medal game
National Post/CBC-- Ron Wilson says he has nothing to prove
National Post/CBC-- Canada will win 5-3, predicts Don Cherry
Toronto Star-- Cox: Luongo, Miller joust one for the ages
Toronto Sun-- Babcock bracing for big game
Toronto Sun-- Canada doesn't want to see another Miracle
Boston Globe-- US built a team top to bottom
Boston Globe-- US-Canada, Part 2: This time it's for hockey gold
Boston Globe-- Thomas delighted by debut
New York Times-- U.S. and Canada in Fight for Olympic Hockey Gold
New York Times-- Narrating Canada’s Quest for Gold in Men’s Hockey
Detroit Free Press-- Pressure is on Canada at Games' end
Detroit Free Press-- It's no miracle if U.S. beats Canada
Detroit Free Press-- All the emotion surrounding USA vs. Canada makes game one for the ages
Detroit News-- Lunch-bucket Americans have nothing to lose vs. Canada
Detroit News-- Heading to the U.S.-Canada hockey game? It'll cost ya!
Detroit News-- Youngest U.S. hockey player raising Kane
Chicago Tribune-- Kane having time of life at Olympics
Chicago Tribune-- Breaking down the U.S. vs. Canada
Chicago Tribune-- What’s on the line? Just everything
Chicago Sun Times-- USA vs. Canada: Scouting the men's hockey final
First posted to the HockeyNation blog