Quick Intro: US Olympic Ice Hockey History
The United States made its first appearance in the Olympic Ice Hockey tournament in 1920, when the sport first appeared in the Summer Olympics. Held in Antwerp, Belgium, the US won its first Silver medal in the sport, with Canada taking the Gold.
The first Winter Olympic Games were held in 1924 in Chamonix, France, and the US once again won a Silver medal to Canada's Gold. The US team would win four Silver medals, plus a Bronze, in the international competition between 1924 and 1956, before finally breaking through for Gold in 1960. The Winter Olympics Ice Hockey tournament was held in Squaw Valley, California in 1960, and an upstart US team defeated Canada (2 to 1), the Soviet Union (3 to 2), and Czechoslovakia (9 to 4) to win its first ever Olympic Gold medal in Ice Hockey.
Olympic Ice Hockey was dominated by the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1992, as the "Red Machine" won seven Gold medals in eight tries. Its only blemish: a Silver medal in 1980, as another upstart US team of twenty college players stunned the Soviets and the nation during a game that has become known as the "Miracle on Ice." With the 1980 Winter Olympic Ice Hockey tournament taking place in Lake Placid, New York, coach Herb Brooks led his team to a stunning victory over the Soviets (4 to 3) before defeating Finland (4 to 2) for their second Olympic Gold medal in Ice Hockey .
1998 marked two historical moments in Olympic Ice Hockey. 1998 was the first season the National Hockey League introduced the "Olympic break," allowing its players to compete with their respective homelands' teams (Olympic Ice Hockey was opened to professionals in 1988). 1998 was also the first Olympics to feature Women's Ice Hockey, and Team USA defeated Canada to capture the inaugural Gold medal in the sport.
After a Silver medal in 2002 and a disappointing eighth-place finish in 2006, the US Men's team entered the 2010 Winter Olympic Ice Hockey tournament ranked seventh overall. Team USA, led by Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, attempted its own "miracle," beginning with an upset victory over Canada (5 to 3) in the preliminary rounds that gave the US a qualification-round bye and forced Canada to play into the quarter-finals. The two teams met again, this time for Gold. Following a dramatic game, in which the US was down 2 to 0 and forced a tie in the final minute of regulation, Team USA settled for the Silver medal after Canada's Sidney Crosby scored in overtime. Miller, however, was awarded the tournament's Most Valuable Player award.