It was the single biggest event so far in the first 10 days of the Olympics.
Tickets were going for upwards of $1,000; that is, if you could find anyone in Vancouver willing to part with them. Yet, many Americans were not able to watch, even on TV.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, what I’m talking about is the men’s hockey matchup between Team USA and Canada. You know, the hockey game that meant so much to the entire country of Canada but was relegated to second-tier status on American television?
Rather than put the hottest ticket event on network television (NBC) in primetime on a Sunday night — when millions of Americans would be almost guaranteed to tune in — someone decided it would be a better idea to put it on MSNBC. On NBC, they aired a thrilling compilation of ice dancing, men’s super G, men’s ski cross, women’s speed skating and bobsled.
Apparently an afternoon game between Russia and the Czech Republic is good enough for network coverage on NBC, but a game between the U.S. and Canada — countries Americans actually care about — is not worthy of NBC’s highly coveted primetime slot.
Clearly, those in charge of programming at NBC no longer believe in miracles. With as much as those at NBC love feel-good stories, the chance to show one of the United States’ underdogs seems like an opportunity they would have jumped at.
Instead, the reason for not showing last night’s game probably had to do with that very reason. With so much less down time than in your typical Olympic sports, the opportunity for NBC’s favorite aspect of the games — feel good fluff pieces — decreases dramatically.
While NBC probably doesn’t care whether people watch its flagship station or MSNBC (or CNBC) — as long as they watch one of them — they certainly missed out on one of the most thrilling events yet in Vancouver.
Spending more than $1,000 to watch one game is a little crazy, but the game more than lived up to the hype. The atmosphere, or what I gathered of it from watching on MSNBC, was everything you could ask for in a crucial tournament hockey game.
When the action started, that was equally great, if not better.
Just 41 seconds in, Team USA was on the board thanks to an impressive goal by defenseman Brian Rafalski, a former Wisconsin standout and current member of the Detroit Red Wings.
Two more goals would be scored in the first period, one each for the U.S. and Canada, making it a 2-1 game as the teams headed to the locker rooms for the first intermission. Rafalski again netted the goal for Team USA, taking advantage of a mistake by Canada’s Martin Brodeur and putting the Americans back on top.
At the 3:32 mark in the second period, Canada evened the score at two goals apiece.
Once again, a former Badger lit the lamp. This time it was left winger Dany Heatley, a current member of the San Jose Sharks who holds dual citizenship in Germany and Canada. Heatley took advantage of a defensive lapse by Team USA for an easy goal.
While the next 13 minutes went scoreless for both teams, the intensity remained, and another Team USA goal — this time by Chris Drury — on another Brodeur mistake put the Americans up 3-2 heading into the third and final period.
With 20 minutes to go in the third game of the Olympics for both teams, the intensity level at Canada Hockey Place was incredible.
But as much as the entire country of Canada would have liked to will the team in red and white to victory, Team USA continued to exert control over its neighbor to the north. Just over seven minutes into the third period, Jamie Langenbrunner extended the lead for Team USA to 4-2, seemingly ending Canada’s hopes of victory.
Playing their game on their home ice, though, the Canadians would not go down without a fight. It might be “America’s Hat,” but if there’s anything Canada does well, it’s hockey.
Sidney Crosby netted a huge goal, making the final three minutes of hockey as intense as anything the Winter Games have seen to date.
The home team would come up a bit short, however. An empty-net goal made it 5-3 and sealed the biggest win for USA Hockey in recent history.
Like most people, I’m fascinated by the Olympics. Winter or Summer Games, every two years we get to see the best in the world compete in sports we don’t usually watch, on national television in primetime no less.
More importantly, I love the great individual performances that seem to only come because of the desire and determination it takes to earn a medal in the Olympics. Although you may not think individual glory when you think hockey, you are wrong.
Team USA goaltender Ryan Miller had an impressive game to keep Canada to just three goals. Miller made 42 saves and withstood a ridiculous flurry of chances in the final minutes to hold off a Canadian team that had stolen all the game’s momentum.
Unfortunately, NBC didn’t think such an instant classic of a game was possible. I hope ice dancing lived up to the hype, because Canada-USA sure as hell did.
Jordan is a senior majoring in journalism and political science. Did you see Team USA’s huge win over Canada? If not, how was ice dancing? Let him know at [email protected]