February 26, 2010 - 7:41 PM
The Americans were asked this question several times Friday after blowing out Finland, 6-1, in the men's hockey semifinals: Who would you rather play for the gold, Canada or Slovakia.
Canada appeared to be the tougher opponent going into its game against the Slovaks later this evening. In terms of winning gold, common sense suggests they would want to play Slovakia. In terms of pure satisfaction, they would rather beat Canada on their own turf.
"From the fans' standpoint, everybody wants to see U.S.-Canada," South Buffalo native Patrick Kane said. "If I was a fan, I would want to see the same thing. When you're in the games, when you're playing, it doesn't really matter. It's just going to be fun to be part of that game and give ourselves a chance to win no matter who we play."
The game today was almost over before it started, thanks to Miikka Kiprusoff gift-wrapping the first goal for Ryan Malone with a terrible giveaway. Kane finished with two goals. He also finished Kiprusoff with a backhander that made it 4-0 midway through the first period.
I asked Ryan Miller what it was like to watch his team score three quick goals … bang, bang, bang … and he had a classic response:
"You forgot a few bangs," he said.
Kane had two goals after struggling in his previous two games. Zach Parise, Erik Johnson and Paul Stastny also scored for the Americans. They haven't won the gold medal since 1980. The only other time they won was in 1960.
"It would be unbelievable," Kane said. "I never really won anything big in my life, honestly, under-18 world championships and stuff like that, but nothing like a Stanley Cup or gold medal or world junior. It would be an awesome feeling. You get one chance every four years. To do it this year in my first opportunity would be unbelievable, very special."
Kane has become friends with actor Vince Vaughn, a Blackhawks fan from Chicago who attended Kane's 21st birthday party in November. Vaughn attended the game Friday. By the way, actor Donald Sutherland was in the house Thursday for the U.S.-Canada women's final.
"It's funny seeing the guys from "Around the Horn', that ESPN show," Kane said. "They don't ever talk hockey on that show, and they're here asking questions. I'm like, "What the hell is going on here?'
"You see how important we are getting for this country. It's the 50th anniversary of the '60 team and 30th of the '80 team. Hopefully, that means something and we can bring the same feeling back to the country."
--- Bucky Gleason