I swear, I'm not boycotting the Olympics- although a casual glance of this blog since the Winter games got underway in Sochi might lead one to that conclusion. On the other hand, Wyatt Earp of Support Your Local Gunfighter is keeping track of the compelling human-interest stories concerning the athletes competing in Sochi.
WINTER OLYMPICS- Despite the highly publicized gaffes such as reporters checking into hotels still under construction and a technical miscue during the opening ceremonies, the Winter Olympiad at Sochi got off and running last week.
US Snowboarder Sage Kostenburg won the first gold medal of the games in the men's slopestyle event back on Feb 8th. Well beyond the halfway point of the 2014 Sochi games, Team USA currently leads the overall medal count with 23 (7 gold, 5 silver and 11 bronze). Both Russia and the Netherlands trail the USA in the medal count by one while Norway has the most gold medals with a grand total of nine.
Of most interest to me is the Team USA Men's hockey- which got off to a stellar start with a 7-1 thumping of Slovakia on Feb 12th for their Olympic debut. On Saturday, the USA needed a controversial disallowed goal and OT to get past a heavily favored Russia team, with St Louis Blue Center TJ Oshie becoming something of a cult hero with his game-winning shootout goal to give Team USA the 3-2 win.
On Wednesday, Dustin Brown got the game-winning goal for Team USA as they cruised past the Czech Republic by a 5-2 final while host Russia was eliminated from medal contention by Finland in a 3-1 loss. Team Canada got by a very game Latvia, winning 2-1 to set up a semifinal contest with Team USA on Friday. The winner of the USA/Canada men's game will go on to face the winner of the Sweden/Finland men's semifinal game for the gold.
For those of you who can't wait until Friday for some good ol' USA-on-Canada puck action, the women's hockey gold medal game will feature the USA taking on Canada on Thursday at 12:00 ET for all the marbles. The game will be televised on NBC and streamed on the NBC Olympics website.
ELSEWHERE IN THE OLYMPICS- Lebanese downhill skier Jackie Chamoun has reportedly raised the ire of politicians in Beirut after topless pictures of her were circulating online. Lebanon's interim Sports Minister reportedly called upon the Lebanese Olympic Committee to launch an inquiry and 'take the required steps to avoid harming Lebanon's international reputation'.
Chamoun has her defenders both inside and beyond Lebanon's borders, and after condemnation from Islamic clerics and demand for a parliamentary inquiry, social-media savvy Lebanese took to twitter and Facebook- sometimes posting pictures of them topless or seminude- using the hashtag #StripForJackie.
NHL- Of course, all these NHL All-Stars mean that there's no NHL for nearly 3 weeks. In fact, we're still nearly a week away from the resumption of NHL play- and that is a single game between the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes that was postponed earlier in the year due to a blizzard before being rescheduled to Feb 25th.
Thanks to the Olympic break, the Boston Bruins have a grand total of five games in the month of February- including a Feb 26th matchup against the Sabres at the First Niagara Centre. After a quick 1-game road trip to St Louis, the Bruins returned home to the Garden to face off against the Ottawa Senators for the final game before the Olympic break. The B's jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first thanks to goals from Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly- and they never looked back, adding on to their lead with goals from Bobby Ryan, Jarome Iginla, Carl Soderburg, Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic to cruise to a 7-2 victory.
Although the Bruins head into the 3-week long break leading the Atlantic Division, they're still 5 points behind the Penguins for the Eastern Conference lead.
While we still have to wait for a whole week for the next Bruins game, the good news is that it will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network on Feb 26th with the puck scheduled to drop at 7:30 ET.
NCAA HOCKEY- For the fifth straight year, the Boston College Eagles are the Beanpot champions, having defeated Northeastern during the Beanpot Finals on Feb 10th.
Although Boston College got out to a 1-0 lead, Northeastern managed to tie the contest back up at 1-1 in the closing minutes of the second period. However, BC senior forward Patrick Brown would get what would prove to be the game winning goal with just under 5 minutes to go in regulation before the Eagles added on with an empty netter from Junior Johnny Gaudreau with less than two minutes to go in the game and another tally from Brown.
The 5-straight titles for BC is the first since the 1999-2000 season when the BU Terriers had won their 6th straight. Boston College came into the 2/10 Beanpot final ranked the #1 program in the USA according to a USCHO poll.
NCAA HOOPS- As awesome as a fifth straight Beanpot title for the men's hockey program might've been, the BC Eagles made headlines on Wednesday night when they toppled previously undefeated Syracuse in OT at the Carrier Dome. Sophomore Olivier Hanlon led BC with 20 points and three assists.
The Eagles went on a 29-12 run in the second half to take a 46-42 lead and Junior Lonnie Jackson had 10 points, making three out of his four free throws in OT to help BC go on to their 62-59 win. The win by Boston College means that the Wichita State Shockers are now the sole undefeated Division I men's basketball program in the nation.