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"Do You Believe In Minor Upsets?!? YEEESSS!!!" U.S. Spanks Canada 4-2 In Preliminary Round

No doy we'd all rather see the NHLers out there but the owners run that show so we're not. But it's still USA vs. CANADA on the Olympic stage so of course I'm watching. The womens game Monday, a 4-2 Canada win, featured an unreal performance from goalie Ann-Renee Desbien who stopped 51 of 53 American shots. The gold medal game between these two feels like a fait accompli at this point and I can't wait because the hate is very real between these two teams that are representing the best their respective countries have to offer. 

Last night, Canada was a roughly -200 favorite but the U.S.'s 23-year-old goalie Strauss Mann overcame early hiccups and stopped all 17 third period shots as the States beat their continental rivals 4-2. A Connecticut native, Mann signed with Skelleftea in Sweden last July after three years at Michigan and two as the starter. He was Big Ten Goaltender of the Year as a sophomore and finalist for the Mike Richter Award in both his seasons as the starter for the Wolverines. His save percentage as a Wolverine was .926 and he had 11 shutouts in 77 games but he wasn't drafted. 

Mann turned away 35 of 37 shots and vastly outplayed his counterpart, 11-year-pro and current KHLer Eddie Pasquale. In what should be no surprise to fans of teams that Claude Julien has coached, the longtime bench boss chose to go with a veteran he can ostensibly trust instead of a more talented youngster. 

Devon Levi, a 7th round pick by Florida in 2020 but is now Buffalo property, is the best college goalie in the States with a ridiculous .948 save percentage and NINE shutouts in just 24 games. Claude didn't even opt to dress the 20-year-old Northeastern Husky. It is still the preliminary rounds so we may see him yet. But he might want to ride the hot hand.

Canada jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead but the U.S. tied it just over a minute late then took a 2-1 late in the first. They went up 3-1 and Canada halved the deficit before the end of the second period and was very much in the game. But Kenny Agostino, NHLer turned KHLer, made it 4-2 6:13 into the third then it was the Strauss Mann show. If he has a couple more games like that in China, you gotta think a couple of teams kick the tires on him given the number of goalies we've already seen this year. 

Yeah, I know it's only the prelims but it's always good to beat Canada in hockey. The Canadians finish up the seeding round against China and the U.S. takes on Germany. Sweden, Finland, and the Rooskies are already in the medal round so we're waiting to see if the Danes get in or the Czechs to round out the field.