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Olympics: USA hockey team wants to finish the job

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Zach Parise and his USA teammates have some unfinished business to take care of at the Sochi Olympics after coming within a goal of striking gold four years ago in Vancouver.

The memory of their 3-2 loss in the gold medal game, when Sidney Crosby scored in overtime for Canada, is still fresh in their minds.

"We came so close in Vancouver," said Parise. "It was a tough way for us to finish.

"We know that just because we finished second the last time there is no guarantee we are going to get back to gold medal game. A lot of things have to go right."

The Americans may not have the star power on offence that Russia and Canada or even Sweden boasts, but they are deep in goal which is key for any team hoping to make a run at a medal.

The 2010 silver medallists will likely go with Jonathan Quick as their No. 1 followed by Ryan Miller and Jimmy Howard. And talented forward Patrick Kane could turn out to be the biggest game breaker of the tournament for any team.

He was the USA's best forward in Vancouver and he anchors an explosive powerplay that also includes Dustin Brown and Parise.

"The Olympics is a place you can make a name for yourself," said associate general manager Ray Shero.

Kane, who has a silver medal from 2010 and has won two Stanley Cup championships with the Chicago Blackhawks, said he's going to be even more focussed in Sochi.

"The gold medal game was special but I was young and naive. I didn't realize how big a game it was at the time. It would be nice to get back in that situation," said Kane, who has 27 goals and 63 points in 59 games with Chicago this season.

- Bitter memories -

Brown said he still has bitter memories of how they lost to Canada.

"Sometimes a loss motivates you more than anything else," Brown said. "I keep it in the back of my mind.

"In 2010 no one gave us a chance. It is always about the expectations you put on each other in the dressing room. We are itching to play at an Olympic level."

The Americans are in the difficult Group A with Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia. They will play one of the most anticipated games of the preliminary round when they face Russia on Saturday.

The USA team will be without their general manager David Poile who can't travel to Sochi after undergoing surgery for facial injuries he suffered when struck by a puck last week.

Poile needed surgery for damage to an eye and received stitches for a deep cut to his face.

Poile, who is also the GM of the Nashville Predators, was standing in a tunnel area just off the ice surface when a hard pass from defenceman Shea Weber, who will play for Canada at the Olympics, deflected over the boards.

"David is getting the medical attention he needs back in Nashville," said Jim Johannson, the assistant executive director of USA Hockey on Tuesday.

"We are going to miss his input but we are in communication."

Weber said his pass deflected off Roman Josi's stick.

"The puck went into the tunnel where he was. It is very unfortunate to see that happen in a practice. It wasn't even a player that got hurt, but our GM," Weber said on Tuesday.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140211/olympics-usa-hockey-team-wants-finish-the-job