Thursday Trivia: Hockey at the Winter Olympics

The awesome mask for Ryan Miller, Team USA goaltender.

With the Winter Olympic ice hockey tournament in full swing, both the men’s and women’s teams for the United States have a chance to medal. The US women’s team will play Canada for the gold medal at (EDIT: 6:00 PM) Eastern Time today (broadcast in the States on MSNBC, I assume up north on CBC), while US men’s team beat Switzerland 2-0 and will play Finland tomorrow at 3 PM for the right to play in the Gold Medal Match against the winner of Canada/ Slovakia (tomorrow at 9:30). Ryan Miller’s stellar 18-save match yesterday was the first shutout for Team USA since Mike Richter beat Germany 5-0 in the quarterfinals of the 2002 Olympics at Salt Lake City.

On that note, here’s four more bits of trivia about ice hockey at the Winter Olympics:

  • Due to prohibitive costs to convert the rinks at Canada Hockey Place and the University of British Columbia’s Sports Centre, the 2010 Olympics became the first Olympics to play ice hockey on an NHL-sized (200 x 85 ft) rather than an IIHF-sized (200.13 x 98.42 ft) rink.
  • That didn’t stop the need to convert the rink for Olympic purposes, though – leading the Vancouver Canucks to play the longest road trip in NHL history, from January 27th through the Olympic Break into March 13th, a total of 14 games away from General Motors Place.
  • Hockey has not always been the only shooting-things-into-nets-while-skating game in the Olympics, though. The 1952 Olympics at Oslo featured the only Olympic-level bandy tournament. Bandy, popular in Russia and Scandinavia, involves shooting or kicking a ball into a net – sort of the hybrid between hockey and soccer. Only Sweden, Norway, and Finland fielded squads, with the Swedes winning gold.
  • When women’s hockey was first put in place in the 1998 Olympics at Nagano, Japan, there were two key differences between the men’s and the women’s games that remain today: first, the women have to wear full facemasks (the men, of course, don’t – although they do in college hockey), and they can’t body check (which takes the life out of the game, I’ll be honest).

Join me for next week’s edition of the Thursday Trivia, when I discuss five bits of trivia on a topic to be decided.

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