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Kelsey's Korner

Count me as someone jazzed for USA Olympic hockey (despite no NHL)



The 2022 Winter Olympics kicked off Friday at 4:30 a.m. with the Opening Ceremony but we were able to catch a few sports before the official kick-off. Time to break out the Team USA sweaters and represent (It’s a toss-up on my favorite Jim Craig sweater or T.J. Oshie).

To some, this is a good time to change up the background noise while cooking, a chance to watch some unique sports that they wouldn’t normally watch, and bedtime TV. Your favorite sports team may never make it to the Stanley Cup, the Super Bowl or the World Series. But every four years, we as a country get to root for the same team to bring home Gold. For once we are all rooting for our favorite team, Team USA. 

The Olympics have always been special to me. Growing up and playing hockey, it was a dream to wear a Team USA sweater and some gold goalie pads. Whenever I could I would watch Team USA Women’s hockey. I would record it, stay up late, anything to watch the team. The Olympics were the only chance I had to watch women play the sport I loved. It gave me hope that one day I could do this. Four ACL surgeries said no.

The passion never went away. Fast forward to 2014 and what a year to for Team USA hockey. The Olympics are so incredibly special for so many reasons. During the NHL season, the players battled blood, sweat and tears but during the Olympics, it’s as if the NHL season never happened. In 2014 Paul Stastny who played with the Colorado Avalanche at that time, was sharing a roster spot with Minnesota Wild played, Zach Parise. Though there was no bad blood between the two as individuals, the battle and intensity of those games were there during the NHL season. Now they were fighting for Olympic gold as teammates. This is a time when everyone puts aside their differences on and off the ice to rally together. No other sporting event does that. You get to witness the greatness of the professionals as your favorite players from different teams join together almost as if you did a fantasy hockey draft that included Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and John Tavares. No team in the NHL will have that amount of skill set. The best of the best on a team. My 10-year-old self would put these types of teams together on NHL 08 on the Playstation and get to enjoy them every four years in person. 

I hate to bring up politics and current world drama but let’s face it, the last two years have been rough. Friends, family and neighbors are divided. It feels like the Olympics are the only event that can bring the world together for two weeks. For two weeks, COVID-19 isn’t going to be the first story on the news, it’s not this politician vs this politician or some other bad news. The focus is medal count, the next obstacle Team USA is going to face against, is Shawn White ever going to retire? The world seems to slow down and focus on sports and the competitive nature that comes with it. I remember growing up and hating the news. All that was talked about was war, a scandal, etc. Bad news followed up by more bad news. When the Olympics came around, it was almost as if the bad news was put on hold. That stuck with me the rest of my life, as well as the feeling of what sports can do.  In college during 2014 I would stream the games on my iPad during class. People I hadn’t spoken to all semester would grab me after class and we would talk about the game and what a win it was. It didn’t matter if they were a Wild fan or an Avs fan, what mattered is we both were rooting for Team USA. 

Is there another rival in sports like Team USA and Canada when it comes to hockey? Women’s or men’s. In 2014 the USA women’s hockey team lost to Canada 3-2 in a shootout for the gold medal. It was if your favorite team lost the Stanley Cup. In 2018 the two teams met again in the gold medal round. You could feel the excitement from your couch, bar, where ever you were watching the game. An entire country was rooting for their team to skate away with gold. Boy, did the game not disappoint as it was decided in a shootout again. This time Team USA was making the laps with the flag around their shoulders. I’m 99% sure I shed a tear. How about T.J. Oshie willing his way to a shootout win against Russia when we went 4-for-6 against Sergei Bobrovsky?

Moments like that stick with a person for the rest of their life, just like the 1980 team did. That game wasn’t just a game and I refuse to think a moment like that couldn’t happen again and bring everyone back together. No pressure Team USA. Just an entire country pulling for ya. 

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