PREVIEW-Olympics-Ice hockey-Gold medal rematches bring back buzz

Thu Feb 20, 2014 7:08am EST
 
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By Steve Keating

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Semi-finals featuring countries that share borders, a deep passion for ice hockey and a competitive hatred are sure to bring the buzz back to an Olympic men's event still reeling from Russia's shock exit.

The men's ice hockey gold medal will be the last decided in Sochi, handed out just hours before Sunday's closing ceremonies and the host nation will not be part of the excitement after crashing out in the quarter-finals.

As Russia slowly get over the disappointment of their exit, the rest of the sport's fraternity are preparing for a pair of intriguing gold-medal rematches on Friday that could provide some of the most memorable moments of these Games.

North American neighbors Canada and the United States will meet in a rematch of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic final won by the Canadians on a golden goal from Sidney Crosby.

The other semi-final is also a gold-medal rematch with Finland and Sweden facing off just as they did in the 2006 Turin final won by the Swedes.

"2010 is all over with and we're on a new opportunity both for them and for us," said Canadian head coach Mike Babcock. "The teams are different.

"You have an opportunity right now to make memories for the rest of your life. That's just what this is about."

Certainly there will be no mysteries surrounding either contest with players, coaches and fans keenly aware of what each team will bring to the rink.   Continued...

 
Canada's ice hockey player Patrice Bergeron walks to the Bolshoy arena following a men's team practice at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics February 20, 2014. REUTERS/Brian Snyder