Rivalry Renewed: USA vs. Canada

Canada women's curling

It is that tense and intense.

But for now, the hockey tournament's just beginning, and Sullivan will be up early watching every game in Korea.

Team USA trailed 2-0 when the second period ended, but two-time Olympian Kendall Coyne scored quickly when the US returned to the ice. "The minute they could go on skates, they started playing hockey" says Sharon Sullivan, Jordan's grandmother. One snapshot of what makes these matchups so magical.

However, a win Wednesday could serve as an important mental boost, giving the victory confidence heading into the likely gold-medal game rematch.

"When I'm older", he said, "I'll look back and say, 'Wow, that's incredible'". "It was bitter. It was a true, nasty rivalry, in just how you would envision it". The players want to play; the fans want to watch; there is nothing as uplifting and inspiring as global competition between the best of the best.

As if getting to see some of the best up-and-coming players in the world play each other isn't good enough, the WJC also provides fans with the country pride of the Winter Olympics. They haven't lost a game since the gold medal disappointment of 1998. The score Thursday was 2-1.

A team who never quit, the Slovenians fought their way into the knockout round in Sochi four years ago and finished seventh. "After we scored that first goal, I think we really got that extra energy and the feeling that we can score some more".

For the Americans to win the Olympic hockey tournament, coach Tony Granato might well need a miracle and find a way to clone Troy Terry.

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Easier said than done against a Slovakia team that wore down the talented Russians and shut out the U.S.at the pre-Olympic Deutschland Cup in November. Two of the last three world championships have gone to overtime. The Americans outshot Slovenia 11-3 in the first period. Shots don't matter. Possession doesn't matter. "So he's more like a power forward, doing a good job with the forecheck and stuff like that".

That was a team of future Hockey Hall of Famers, NHL most valuable players and scoring champions like Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews. It's like playing for bragging rights with your buddies in the beer league, except it's a much higher level. American medal standings in the last five Olympics has the women's team earning one gold and three silvers. "That's what's happening here".

After the games, where they hope to win with some new hardware, the Lamoureux sisters, both of whom are married, plan on starting families upon returning stateside.

Led by team captain Chris Kelly of the AHL Belleville Senators, the Canadian men's team opens its preliminary-round schedule Thursday vs. Switzerland. This is the tournament of great unknowns.

The U.S. and Canada are heavy favorites to play next week for the gold medal for the third-straight Olympics. That's what makes this so different and special.

Team USA only had five practices together before opening the tournament but chemistry didn't seem to be an issue as the Americans generated plenty of scoring chances.

Favourite or underdog, the designation is basically meaningless now.

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