Canadian men fall to US for 1st loss of Olympic hockey tournament

In a battle of styles, Canada’s men’s hockey team lost out to the US on Saturday at the Beijing Olympics.

The speedy young Americans beat the big, experienced Canadian squad 4-2 for its second win in as many tries of the tournament. Canada falls to 1-1 with the loss.

“They are fast, fast on transition. It is on us to be better, put pucks deep and not feed into their transition,” said Canadian forward David Desharnais.

“You can’t feed their transition and that is exactly what we did.”

The North American powerhouses are grouped with reigning silver medallist Germany and host China in the group stage that determines seeding for the knockout rounds.

WATCH | Kenny Agostino supplies the dagger for US:

Agostino’s blast restores 2-goal lead for United States

Kenny Agostino’s goal in the third period gives the United States a 4-2 lead over Canada in the third period. 1:02

It was the first game between the rivals since 2014 Olympic semifinals, when Canada’s star-studded roster of NHLers ground out a 1-0 victory on the way to winning gold in Sochi.

On Saturday, the youngsters won out to set up the US to win Group A and avoid the qualification round, in which Canada is now likely to play.

Captain Andy Miele led the charge for the US with a goal and assist, bullying Canadian defensemen on the forecheck all game. Miele, a veteran of 15 NHL contests, set the tone by tying things at 1 about a minute after Canada opened the scoring early in the first period.

Miele led an odd-man break and caught Canadian goalie Eddie Pasquale playing the pass before roofing a backhander short-side on the first shot of the game for the Americans.

It was a boost for the US, which had just seen its own goalie, Strauss Mann, allow a weak Mat Robinson wrister from the sideboards past him for the opening score.

“We played into their hands on some shifts. They are a strong team and we gave them too much room on some of those goals. We will have to learn from that,” said Canadian defenseman Max Noreau.

Canadian forwards Daniel Winnik, left, and David Desharnais, right defend against the US’s Matt Knies during the first period of their game on Saturday at the Beijing Olympics. (Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports)

Instead of Canada dominating the opening frame, the US took control and eventually capitalized late when forward Ben Meyers stuffed in a loose puck from the crease.

The Americans would go up 3-1 early in the second when Pasquale gave the puck away behind his net and failed to recover, allowing forward Brenden Brisson to pot an easy one.

Canada cut its deficit back to one when Corban Knight scored off a short-handed rush. The US restored its two goal-lead in the third period as a Kenny Agostino clapper squeaked through Pasquale’s pads.

WATCH | Knight pot shorty:

Corban Knight’s shorty cuts Canada’s deficit to one goal

With captain Eric Staal in the penalty box, Corban Knight scores a short-handed goal against the Americans and Canada trails 3-2 in the second period. 1:05

Canada shot out the US 37-27, including 17-4 in the final frame.

“There are no excuses. We have to get better,” Noreau said.

youth vs. experience

Canada, which played its continental rival in a controlled scrimmage earlier this week, brought a mix of youth and experience to China, including captain Eric Staal, while the US opted for a roster mostly made up of NCAA players.

American defenseman and Ottawa Senators prospect Jake Sanderson, who tested positive for COVID-19 before the team departed Los Angeles and had to pass six tests to be eligible, dressed for his first game of the tournament.

Canada’s head coach Claude Julien was behind the bench after rejoining the team Thursday. The 61-year-old broke a rib and suffered a punctured lung in a sledding accident where he hit a tree during the team’s training camp in Switzerland. The NHL coach of the year in 2009 was initially unable to travel to China, but was subsequently cleared to fly and watched Thursday’s 5-1 victory over Germany.

The NHL’s decision to withdraw from the tournament because of COVID-19 concerns — the second time in as many Games the likes of Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and Auston Matthews have missed out — opened the door for both teams to bring some of its next generation .

The top-3 picks at the 2021 NHL draft played Saturday, with defenseman Owen Power (first overall, Buffalo Sabers) and forward Mason McTavish (third overall, Anaheim Ducks) in the lineup for Canada, while Beniers (second overall, Seattle Kraken) suited up for the US

Canada opened its tournament with a 5-1 win over Germany, while the Americans crushed host China 8-0.

Canada closes out group-stage action with a contest against China on Sunday at 8:10 am ET.

The gold-medal game is slated for 11:10 pm ET on Feb. 19 at the National Indoor Stadium.

Canada, which won bronze at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang with another roster of non-NHLers, topped the podium in 2002, 2010 and 2014 with its professional stars, but hasn’t secured gold minus its best since 1952.

You can watch every game of the tournament live or on demand on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app, or on CBC Gem.

WATCH | Full replay of Canada vs. US:

Hockey – Canada vs USA – Men’s Preliminary Round

Canada takes on USA in Men’s Hockey on Day 8 of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. 2:21:48

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