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Bronze or Bust for Determined U.S. Squad

02/21/2014, 6:00pm EST
By Harry Thompson - Editor, USA Hockey Magazine

SOCHI, Russia – There’s an old expression in Olympic hockey that you don’t win silver; you lose gold. But what about a bronze medal?

The U.S. Men’s Team is determined not to leave here empty handed and has vowed to bring home the hardware, no matter what precious metal it may consist of.

After losing a tough game to Canada, 1-0, on Friday night, the U.S. has little time to regroup before taking on a very talented and defensively sound Finland team on Saturday. Finland lost early in the day to Sweden, 2-1, on the front end of what some called Rivalry Friday.

The U.S. was hoping to get a bit of payback after losing to the Canadians in the gold-medal game in Vancouver four years ago.

While the sting of coming so close may still linger when the puck drops, the U.S. knows they have no choice but to lick their wounds, mental and physical, and be ready when the puck drops at 7 p.m., local time at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.

“We don’t have a choice. There’s one more time to wear the red, white and blue for our country and hopefully bring home some hardware and do it proud,” said David Backes, who like so many members of this team, draws his inspiration from the U.S. servicemen and women who have wished him luck before the start of the tournament.

“It’s really a sick feeling that we didn’t get the job done tonight but we have one more chance tomorrow to make the trip worth it.”

Winning a bronze here in Sochi would give the U.S. back to back medals for the first time since winning silver in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy in 1956 and gold four years later in Squaw Valley, Calif.

Getting his squad ready to rebound may be head coach Dan Bylsma’s biggest challenge since the team came together just 11 days ago.

“We certainly all feel disappointment in this game, but that’s got to be put behind us very quick. We still have much to play for and we will deal with that tomorrow,” said Bylsma, who is coaching in his first international tournament.

“We still have a lot to play for and not going home with anything is not an option. But we’re going home with a bronze medal.”

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