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America's neighbors to the north just got an on-the-ice shakedown.
Team USA's men's ice hockey team just defeated Canada for the first time at a Winter Olympics in 12 years, winning 4-2 in the group game round of the tournament. The U.S. now leads the Group A competition, and will play Germany for the final match of that round on Sunday.`
The U.S. won gold medals at the 1960 and the 1980 Olympics, and silvers in 2002 and 2010. Canada won gold in 2010, 2014 and then took the bronze in 2018, while the U.S. only made it to seventh place that year.
This year's men's hockey team is made up of 15 college athletes, as the NHL decided that its professional players would not be able to participate in the Beijing Olympics due to COVID-caused disruptions to the league's regular-season schedule.
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The announcement was made in December, with the NHL noting that rising COVID-19 cases because of omicron had postponed a significant amount of games and would not allow an Olympic break.
"The National Hockey League respects and admires the desire of NHL players to represent their countries and participate in a 'best on best' tournament," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement at the time. "Accordingly, we have waited as long as possible to make this decision while exploring every available option to enable our players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL's regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events — 50 games already have been postponed through Dec. 23 — Olympic participation is no longer feasible.
Bettman's statement added, "We certainly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts made by the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the Beijing Organizing Committee to host NHL players but current circumstances have made it impossible for us to proceed despite everyone's best efforts. We look forward to Olympic participation in 2026."
The U.S. women's hockey team is also having a strong run at the Olympics, advancing to the semifinals where they'll play Finland.
To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Winter Olympics, now, and the Paralympics, beginning March 4, on NBC.