No one expected the Americans to lose against the Slovaks. It grew into a tale for the WJHC tournament since the American were supposedly the only threat to the Canadians. The Americans were Pat Quinn’s choice.
But, why did team USA not even make the semi-finals?
Through the tournament the Americans turned a cold shoulder to every opponent they faced. To recall the game against Slovakia, it seemed the Americans couldn’t take the heat when it was thrown to them.
The Americans continued a trend to taunt their opponents from the bench and this could have been a strategy for competitive intelligence–instead, the Americans retaliated back when they were dished their own taste of competitive taunting.
During team USA game against Canada, Canadian Chris DiDomenico was hit with a stick while passing the American bench, during a goal celebration. This resulted in a scuffle between both teams and with a come-from-behind 7-4 victory. Quinn made sure his team doesn’t stand for such demeanors.
Slovakia faced a similar situation with the Americans and a another defeat from the underdogs. USA head coach Ron Rolston was furious, not only about the tournament but the teams attitude on ice.
With USA top forwards such as Jim O’Brien and James van Reimsdyk keeping the unsportsmanlike attitude on the ice, the team held too much of an ego to play against the best. It cost them a quarterfinal-bye and a quarterfinal lost, two things that could have changed their fate in Ottawa.
Tom McCullom didn’t have the best turnout for the tournament, however, he also didn’t have much support from his team. USA were lazy behind the blue line and just couldn’t capitalize during their 40 shot performances.
Team USA left a shaky presence for the rest of the WJHC, something that every team was influenced to do. Now the IHFF has to think of a way to minimize any skate-by bench taunting which will soon increase violence in the junior levels.
The Americans now must think about their junior development program for 2010 and the first step is to indulge the team in confidence and good hockey spirit. The hard-working and classy teams are the ones that take home the gold.