The USA-Canada Olympic hockey semifinal has all the buzz on Feb. 21. However, the U.S. and Canada are only two of four ice hockey teams playing in the semifinal round. While the Americans and Canadians hog the spotlight, Sweden and Finland were content to play in the undercard semifinal -- although Sweden wound up being more content with its 2-1 victory.
Despite how the U.S. and Canada are staging a rematch of the 2010 gold medal game, it isn't the only gold medal rematch of this round. The Swedish and Finnish played for the gold in 2006, where Sweden prevailed by 3-2 on the strength of New York Rangers' goalie Henrik Lundqvist. As it turned out, history repeated itself a round early eight years later.
Lundqvist beat Finland again by just one goal, stopping 25 shots in the process. Yet the biggest hero for Sweden was Erik Karlsson, who scored the winning tally late in the second period. All three goals of the game came in the second, as Finland scored first on a goal from Olli Jokinen, but Loui Eriksson and Karlsson capped the scoring for Sweden.
Canada, the U.S. and Russia may be the most prolific and hyped hockey teams in the Olympics, but Sweden may have the more prolific recent history. While the U.S. and Russians have no gold medals since 1994, the Swedish have two and can now go for a third.
If the Canadians knock off the Americans, the gold medal game will feature the last two Olympic champions. The U.S. could have faced Finland in a rematch of the 1980 Olympic finale, but if it wants its first gold since those games, Sweden will have to be its last opponent instead.
Of course, all eyes are now officially on America and Canada, even if it won't be the last ice hockey game of these Olympics. However, Sweden is content to rest up, watch the U.S. and Canadians beat each other up, and hope that the winner will be drained enough to look past them on Sunday night.
The USA or Canada will complete the gold medal pairing either way, starting at noon est on the NBC Sports Network.