U.S.A. Gears Up For New Hockey Clash With Russia - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

U.S.A. Gears Up For New Hockey Clash With Russia

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BERN, Switzerland (AP) - The United States isn't looking for another Miracle on Ice when it takes on Russia Friday in the semifinals of the ice hockey world championships.

That, after all, would mean classifying themselves as major underdogs, which isn't something this team is about to do.

"It will be hard (Friday) but it won't be a miracle," said U.S. coach Ron Wilson, whose team lost to Russia in a second-round match last Saturday. "If you look at the definition of a miracle, it's something that happens only once. I've beaten Russia five or six times."

But when these two teams play in the medal round of a major championships, there is always talk about the classic game at the 1980 Olympics, when a group of American college players beat the seemingly unbeatable Soviet Union 4-3 on home ice at Lake Placid.

The Americans haven't won an Olympic or world title since.

The only college player on this U.S. squad is Boston University forward Colin Wilson, but the Americans still has one of the youngest teams in the tournament with an average of under 25.

Only three of Wilson's players were even born when the Lake Placid game was played on Feb. 22, 1980.

Goalies Robert Esche and Scott Clemmensen are both 31, leaving 35-year-old forward Jason Blake as the only American player with any actual memory of the match.

"I was watching on television," Blake said. "1980, I think, inspired a lot of parents to get their kids playing hockey.

"It's an inspiration for everybody. But right now we're trying to make our own movie. We came here to get a medal."

To do that, they have to figure out what they did wrong in the group-stage game, when it lost 4-1 to the Russians despite taking an early lead.

"The Russians are a great team. They will make adjustments and we will have our hands full," Wilson said. "We have to be disciplined in the first period and be aggressive with our forechecking."

Russia forward Ilya Kovalchuk played down how dominant his team was against the Americans.

"It's good that the first game wasn't easy for us. That shocked the team a little bit and we're going to play better," Kovalchuk said.

Russia was pushed harder Wednesday in a 4-3 quarterfinals win against Belarus, keyed by Kovalchuk's decisive third-period goal.

"We wish everyone is going to think we're going to play the same (on Friday) like against Belarus," the Atlanta Thrashers captain said. "We're going to surprise a lot of people."

The on-ice matchup of East and West has a different feeling for today's Russians - a meeting of friends and teammates rather than Cold War-era enemies.

"For me it's going to be special because they've got three guys from my team, from Atlanta," said Kovalchuk, referring to defensemen Ron Hainsey and Zach Bogosian, and forward Colin Stuart. "We can't lose because all season long I'm going to hear something."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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