Sunday, February 16, 2014

U.S. hockey win over Russia was great fun ... but not miraculous

No matter how many flashbacks NBC showed or how many references its announcers made, yesterday's thoroughly enjoyable U.S.-Russia hockey game had pretty much zero relationship to the 1980 Miracle on Ice.

Thirty-four years ago, the U.S. team was made up of a bunch of kids either in college or fresh out of college. The Soviet Union team was comprised of mature, well-compensated (by Russian standards) professionals who had dominated international play for years. When Herb Brooks' squad prevailed, it was on the very short list of greatest upsets in sports history.

Today's U.S. team is made up of multimillionare superstar professionals. One could argue quite convincingly that the U.S. roster has more talent top to bottom than the Russian team does. Beating Russia, even on the road, was hardly an upset, let alone a miracle.

Having said that ...

The U.S. and Russia pros staged one of the most exciting sporting events I've seen in quite some time. The game featured drama, outstanding individual performances, controversy and just enough political intrigue to make for an extremely entertaining three hours. I only wish NBC had shown Putin and his minions after T.J. Oshie's fourth and final shootout goal -- as the network earlier had shown Putin celebrating Russian scores.

The game even had a nice little twist for me: The victorious U.S. goalie, Jonathan Quick -- who was accused of cheating by some Russians -- was born in my hometown, Milford, Conn.

So that makes five pretty nice contributions to society for our sleepy little burg:

Bic pens, Schick razors, Subway sandwiches, Jon Quick and Mike Nadel.

OK, maybe four.


That game was only the first part of an extremely enjoyable sports doubleheader for yours truly.

A few hours later, Robbie and I met a dozen or so fellow Carolina Marquetters at a sports bar to watch our alma mater's hoops team defeat Xavier. It was "National Marquette Day," and our Golden Warrior Eagles played one of their best games of the season.

Our lads had such a poor nonconference season that we're still looking at almost must-win situations for the rest of the season if there is to be a ninth straight NCAA tournament invitation.

But hey, every winning streak has to start somewhere. Marquette now has three wins in a row, and an upset of Creighton this coming Wednesday will go a long way toward determining how good this season still can be.


One reason hockey is among my favorite Olympic sports is this: You score the most goals, you win the game. It's not a matter of some judge deciding whether or not you had a proper landing on your pretzel 270 or triple toe loop.

Although I enjoy watching figure skating, I freely admit I'm no expert. Still, I'm trying to figure out how Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu won the men's competition the other day after he stumbled and fell more often than I did during a typical Marquette weekend bender. I'm sorry, but it felt like the fix was in.

Any competition in which the champion is decided by judging rather than head-to-head competition is inferior and hard to be taken seriously.


For the tens of folks who might be wondering about how the girls basketball team I coach did in the playoffs, well, we're still waiting to play.

Mother Nature dumped 8 inches of snow on Charlotte this past week, effectively shutting down the city and postponing our quarterfinal game until this coming Tuesday.

We face a team that has beaten us by only 4 and 6 points this season, so I certainly think we can advance if we play well. But the weather delay was costly, as one of our top players will be out of town all this week.

Darn weather. I moved to N.C. to get away from snow. I sure as hell didn't move here for its enlightened political scene!

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