Beyond The Benches

Top Five USA Hockey Moments

American Independence Day is celebrated throughout the United States on July 4.  For American citizens, it is a time to celebrate country and remember the great history of the nation.  Hockey in the United States has grown by leaps and bounds with respect to popularity and to the number of American-born players in the NHL today.

Right now, some of the greatest players in the NHL are from the United States, such as Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, Zach Parise of the Minnesota Wild and Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The number of American players in the NHL will continue to raise.

This Fourth of July, let’s look at the top moments in USA Hockey history.

5. 2010 World Junior Championships

Team USA captured its second-ever gold medal at the Under-20 World Junior Championships in Saskatchewan, Canada. John Carlson scored the game-winning goal in overtime to defeat Team Canada and prevent the heavily favored Canadians from winning a record sixth-consecutive gold medal. The championship game was one of the most exciting junior-hockey match-ups of all-time and many future NHLers participated including Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers and John Carlson of the Washington Capitals.

4. T.J. Oshie Shootout vs Russia

Although Team USA’s performance during the 2014 Sochi Olympics proved to be disappointing, St. Louis Blues right-wing T.J. Oshie helped win what may be the most-memorable shootout contest ever. The Americans defeated the Russians on Russia’s home ice in a shootout that lasted eight rounds. International ice hockey allows a player to shoot multiple times after the initial three shootout-rounds conclude. Team USA coach Dan Bylsma elected Oshie to shoot five-consecutive times. Oshie scored on four of his six attempts, including the game-winner.

3. Zach Parise Forces Overtime

The Americans were out to prove that they were no longer the little brother of Canada when it comes to hockey in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.  The United States played for the gold-medal against Canada and even though they ultimately lost, Zach Parise’s game-tying goal to force overtime is still a bitter-sweet moment for Team USA.

2. 1996 World Cup of Hockey Gold Medal

The most recent World Cup of Hockey was in 2004 but hockey fans may see its return if the NHL does not participate in the upcoming 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. In 1996, Team USA defeated Team Canada for the gold-medal. The United States roster, put together by longtime Devils GM Lou Lamoriello, consisted of some of the greatest American-born players in NHL history like Brett Hull, Brian Leetch, Mike Richter, Chris Chelios and John LeClair. This was a defining moment for American-hockey and it put the USA back-on-the-map since their 1980 gold medal at Lake Placid.

1.1980 Olympic Gold Medal

Everybody remembers Al Michaels’ famous statement, “Do you believe in miracles?” The 1980 United States Olympic Team pulled off what is considered one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Months before the game, the Soviets had beaten the Americans by a score of 10-3 in an exhibition match-up. The “Miracle on Ice” was a magnificent display of fortitude and patriotism for the United States and is the most-memorable moment in American hockey history.

James Stolfi is a hockey fan/ former goalie turned journalist from the New York metro area. A recent college graduate, majoring in Digital Media/Broadcast Production. He can be contacted on twitter @JamesStolfi.