Proud of my USA hockey team


I was scared when I first heard Ryan Miller was going to be the United States’ goalie in the Olympics.

I had been watching Miller really stink it up for the Buffalo Sabres for several games straight, and I was worried that the poor guy was going to do the same in the Olympics. (If you’re wondering why I’m watching the Sabres, it’s all due to having a Buffalo native for a dad.)

Except for checking the scores the next day, I didn’t watch either of the USA’s first two games, but Sunday night’s game required more of my attention.

I’m usually the person who likes to see the host country win a little more than others, and I especially feel like Canada should win a little more in hockey just because, well, it’s hockey and they’re Canadian. It makes sense.

But Sunday night was a different story.

I’m not the biggest fan of Sidney Crosby. I cannot see him win, and unfortunately, he wins a lot against Miller.

Knowing that the two would face each other in the Olympics gave me flashbacks to the 2008 Winter Classic in Buffalo. It was Crosby’s goal in the shootout against Miller that won the game for the Penguins.

Miller just seems to choke easily in the face of Crosby’s supposed “superstar talent,” and all I could think about was how history would just continue repeating itself.

I was very wrong at the end of Sunday night.

Crosby still scored, but Miller didn’t choke. Martin Brodeur was the shaky goalie this time around.

It doesn’t make me any less worried about Miller’s performance, but it adds a little bit to my confidence in our team.

What’s even more important about this game is that it has been 50 years since the United States last won a men’s hockey game over Canada. It’s also the 30-year anniversary of the Miracle On Ice, when the USA team beat the Soviet Union team (years before I was even born).

I think I’m supposed to feel pride in my country for winning games — and I certainly am — but I’m almost more excited to see one of my Sabres succeed in the Olympics.

A Sabres fan never forgets all the times the team gets so close but not quite there. (The illegal goal during the 1999 Stanley Cup finals against Dallas is just one such instance that comes to mind.)

Of course, there’s always a catch when cheering for your NHL team during the Olympics. What do you do about all the players who are not on the USA team. Including Miller, the Sabres have five players participating in the Olympics as well as coach Lindy Ruff.

So, although Miller succeeded on Sunday, Ruff had to deal with a loss. (Ruff is on the coaching staff for Canada.)

But I think I’ve solved the dilemma of which team I should cheer for. Although I want Miller and the United States to come out on top, I really only have one stipulation in this year’s Winter Olympics: Don’t let Crosby, Malkin or Ovechkin win.


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