CEDAR RAPIDS – There are diehard American patriots like Nate Widman.
The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders captain was asked Thursday to give his medal selections for the ongoing Olympic men’s hockey tournament and was blunt in his reply.
“USA, gold,” Widman said. “Forget about the rest.”
With a Canadian, a Canadian-American, Russian and German on the roster, there are plenty of guys who care about the rest. They represent the rest.
We went around the Riders’ locker room Thursday and got some other predicitions. There was no unanimity, except that they’re having a blast watching the best players in the world play against each other.
“We’re at the level where we’re fans and we still root for our country,” said forward Andrew Poturalski. “But you just appreciate the game a lot. It’s fun to watch really good games like these.”
The RoughRiders play Friday night at Waterloo and host Dubuque on Saturday night at approximately 7:15:
Head Coach/General Manager Mark Carlson
“United States. They have great depth, good goaltending, mobile defensemen who can move the puck. Good coaching staff. Russia gets silver and Canada bronze.”
Assistant Coach Phil Osaer
“Going with Team USA, absolutely. I’m not being a homer. Did you see them (Thursday) put on an offensive display against Slovakia? Realistically, there are five teams who can win it, I think: the U.S., Canada, Russia, Sweden and Finland. But I’m going with the U.S. First of all, their core group of 84s (birthdates) have won World Juniors, have won international tournaments. Then I think Jonathan Quick, if things are dialed in for him … Then I think they have the least amount of pressure. Canada made some bold selections, has to win. Russia’s at home, so they might themselves in Siberia if they don’t win.”
Defenseman Ivan Provorov
“Russia gets gold. Then Canada gets second place and USA third.”
Provorov was asked why Russia, other than he’s from Yaroslavl, about 1,000 miles from Olympic site Sochi.
“I like Pavel Datsyuk.”
Forward Brennan Sanford
“Canada, Russia, U.S. Canada could make a second team and still medal with that second team. I’m giving the silver to Sweden because they’ve got a lot of offense, a lot of skill. Then I had to include the U.S. in there somewhere. I don’t think they’ll win. But after that 7-1 win against Slovakia …”
Forward Corey Petrash
“Canada, Russia, U.S. Everybody is predicting a Canada-Russia final. I just like the whole makeup of the Canadian team. They’ve got a lot of great character guys. (Sidney) Crosby leads them, they’ve got Jonathan Toews right behind him carrying the captaincy. When Crosby got told he was going to be captain, he called Jonathan Toews first to make sure that was all right. Just a great group of guys there.”
Petrash is the lone full Canadian on the club, from Manitoba. He remembers the excitement of Canada’s overtime win over the United States in the 2010 gold-medal game in Vancouver.
“I was at home. Watching that overtime was exciting. We all jumped up when Crosby scored the winner.”
Forward Andrew Poturalski
“Originally I thought Canada would win gold, but I watched some of their (first) game against Norway, and they didn’t look all that good. The USA looked really strong. But I’ll still go with Canada gold, the U.S. silver and Sweden bronze.”
Forward Frederik Tiffels
“Sweden gets gold, USA silver. Russia gets bronze. Sweden has the best mix. The best defenseman, I think, in Erik Karlsson. The best goaltender in (Henrik) Lundqvist. Good forwards, players with a lot of experience. So many talented guys. A really good power play, a shutdown defenseman like (Jonathan) Ericsson. The best mix.”
Tiffels’ goal is to one day represent his native Germany in the Olympic games. Germany did not quality for the 2014 tournament.
“We didn’t deserve it. When we deserve it, we’ll get there.”
Forward Kevin Shand
“I’m half American, half Canadian, so that makes it tough to pick. I don’t know. USA played really well (Thursday), so I’ll probably go for the upset – U.S., Canada, Sweden, in that order. My dad probably won’t like that answer.”
Shand’s father, David, is from Canada and played 421 games in the NHL.
“He played in the World Championship. I have his 1978 World Championships bronze medal. Pretty cool.”
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