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Monday, February 22, 2010

Canada in shock at USA ice hockey defeat

USA ice hockey
Canadian ice hockey star Sidney Crosby admitted a qualifying round play-off was not what he envisaged on home ice at the Winter Olympics after the host nation suffered a shock 5-3 defeat to USA in their final preliminary round group game.

All 12 teams now progress to the knockout stages where they are seeded according to their group-round record.

The loss to the Americans means Canada must now play Germany tomorrow night in the play-off round in order to reach the last eight and get back on track with their gold-medal bid.

"It is probably not where we wanted to be coming in, but that is where we are now," said Crosby, who scored his country's third goal in front of a sell-out crowd at Canada Hockey Place.

"When you get to this point in the tournament it is not going to be easy and the fact we have to play an extra game isn't a terrible thing and we will be ready for it."

Canada's veteran goalkeeper Martin Brodeur, 37, also saw the positive side in having to play an additional game against a German side that scored just three goals and conceded 12 in three straight group defeats. "I hate to say it but I think we just need to play more games," Brodeur said. "There's things we need to work on and hopefully that extra game will give us just that."

While Brodeur faces pressure from rival Canadian keeper Roberto Luongo, Crosby, 22, praised US netminder Ryan Miller, who made 42 saves as the hosts outshot the Americans 45 to 23.

"He was solid and made the big saves, especially late in the game," Crosby said. "We were pressing to tie the game and he made some big saves. It is one game and you run into a hot goalie now and then and we had some bad luck early on."

For the US keeper, the last line in a frantic rearguard effort over the final three minutes as bodies flew in front of Canadian shots, the final buzzer came as a massive relief.

"Those three minutes were some of the most intense I've played," Miller said. "I was glad the boys had some big blocks. We got the goal support, we got five goals against Canada. It was probably one of the biggest games I've ever played in and hopefully it provides the confidence we need moving forward."

USA forward Ryan Kesler grabbed the fifth and final goal for his team on a breakaway after Brodeur had been removed in favour of an extra outfield player.

"I was just trying to chase it down the ice and get a stick on it," Kesler said having shot the puck into an empty net. To come out with the win is pretty special. To beat Canada on their own soil is special."

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