Team USA is 8 for 8, but Calmness Pursues as the USA goes for its Third World Championship

Team USA Men’s National Ice Hockey Team is having a World Championship to remember!

The 2023 edition of the IIHF’s premier event has seen Team USA enter the Semifinals with a record of 7-1-0-0 (22 points), or for you novice fans, a record of 7 wins and 1 overtime win, and 0 losses in overtime and regulation.

The USA enters the medal rounds in Finland’s third city, Tampere, as the favorites off of 2023 results, but not off of historical results.

If people have followed Team USA hockey, you are probably used to the Americans consistently showing signs of being the best nation, only to falter to an often more stacked Canadian, Russian, Swedish, or even Finish side.

Yet, this year, despite being at the annual disadvantage with their North American rivals of not having NHL stars still in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the USA has gotten to historic levels by defeating Sweden in Group A , 4-3 in Overtime, to win Group A, and just beat the Czech Republic 3-0 in the Quarterfinals to stay undefeated!

The rest of the games for the USA have mostly proven to be similar to the Czech game, with a 4-1 win over co-hosts Finland in Tampere, a 7-1 win over Hungary, a 3-2 win over Germany, a 4-1 win over Austria, a 3-0 win over Denmark, and a 9-0 win over France!

These wins have led to a resounding +29 goal differential and an overall 37 goals for to 8 goals against.

And with three wins over the traditional top six in international ice hockey (Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, USA, and Czech Republic), the USA are now once again the favorites to win gold!

But we have seen this story too many times, and this is one huge reason why the American ice hockey community is not getting too hyped for the semifinals.

If we look back to just the previous three major tournaments, we saw similar situations end in vast disappointment.

In the 2021 World Championship, the USA went through Group B with a 6-0-0-1 record and thus was the top seed for the Quarterfinals. While the Russian Olympic Committee (aka: Russia) looked most threatening, it was the relief of Canada looking very bad that warmed the Americans who often had struggled against their northern neighbors. In fact, in Group B, Team USA defeated Canada 5-1!

The Quarterfinal continued this American hegemonic trend as the USA defeated Slovakia 6-1. Yet, to the disappointment of Americans, the Canadians finally came alive defeating the Russian Olympic Committee 2-1 in Overtime.

The USA were thus re-bracketed to play Canada in the Semifinals, and the Canadians got the better of the Americans when it mattered most, winning 4-2. The Americans did win the bronze after defeating Germany 6-1, but it was not the gold Team USA was destined for.

In the 2022 Olympics, the USA closed out Group A with such an impressive record, that many pundits had them as the favorites to win the Olympic Gold Medal, let alone to get at the very least, a bronze. After all, the USA defeated the previous bronze and silver medalists at the Olympics in Canada and Germany respectively. While Finland and the Russian Olympic Committee looked to be the fiercest competitors, most Americans were not expecting any struggle against Slovakia.

Yet, with eyes focused on the future Semifinals, and the USA leading almost the whole second and third periods, the USA were heartbroken when Slovakia scored in the final minute of the third period to put the game into overtime, and then a second period overtime goal sent the Americans packing home. After a 3-0-0-0 start, Team USA were medal less.

The 2022 IIHF World Championship was really the outlier at first for the Americans, yet ended in the same type of disappointment.

The USA entered the Quarterfinal round without much expectation, as the USA barely squeaked by with a 3-2-0-2 record.

This led to a fourth place finish in Group B setting up a date with the hottest team in the tournament: Switzerland.

Yet, the USA defeated Switzerland 3-0! The USA now had confidence yet again.

American ice hockey fans were keen to watch their red, white, and blue in the medal rounds and felt their team was destined for that elusive third World Championship Gold!

However, the USA were crushed in the semifinals after losing 3-4 to hosts Finland, and even lost the third place game 4-8 to the Czech Republic.

This meant that the USA went to two straight major tournaments without medals.

These results represent a microcosm for one of the world’s most talented ice hockey nations, a nation which shares with its neighbor the richest and most popular ice hockey league in the world, the nation which hosts what many consider to be the best ice hockey teams in the world, yet also a nation which boasts immense underperformance at the national team level.

For Team USA, it is one of this continued underperformance that leaves most American ice hockey fans more suspicious than excited for what is to come against the likes of Germany on Saturday at 11:20 am (ET).

In fact, throughout history, the USA has just two World Championship Golds, and just two Olympic Golds in men’s ice hockey, a number that may seem impressive until you realize the World Championship is an annual event, and the Canadians boasts 27 of them, in addition to 9 Olympic Gold Medals, and one of those World Championship Gold Medals for Team USA is actually more of a technicality because the Olympic Gold Medal winner in 1960 also received the World Championship Gold.

The USA (2) may rank #3 all-rime in the Olympics behind Canada (9) and the USSR (7), but in the World Championship, the USA ranks behind Canada (27), the USSR (22), Sweden (11), Czechoslovakia (6), the Czech Republic (6), Russia (5), and Finland (4).

With 9 silver medals and 9 bronze medals, the Americans are not seeking any more medals besides gold this year, but that does not mean Team USA and their fans are not nervous and not lacking expectation.

A good English quote to describe this feelings is “It’s the hope that kills you.”

For Americans, they are too smart to hope for anything anymore when it comes to their national ice hockey team. Instead, Americans will just watch and cheer on their team to win their first World Championship Gold Medal since 1960 in Squaw Valley.

For those in the USA, the game times for the up-coming games are below:

Semifinal versus Germany: 11:20 am (ET) on NHL Network

Final: 1:20 pm (ET) on NHL Network


Published by CK 22

I like history, politics, foreign diplomacy, sports, and more. Basically, the most popular things, plus also geography.

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