SOCHI – Less than a day earlier, the United States was on top of the Olympic hockey mountain. Twenty-two hours and two bitter defeats later, the Americans were left with clearly visible psychic scars and no medal.
A comprehensive 5-0 victory by Finland on Saturday afternoon at Bolshoy Ice Dome delivered the Finns the bronze medal, the country's fourth podium finish in the past five Olympics.
The Americans finished fourth, but it was not an accomplishment viewed with pride by an American team that had designs on bettering the silver it won in Vancouver four years ago.
"Coming into the final round I thought we were playing well," said American forward Zach Parise, the team's captain. "I'm kind of embarrassed where we're at now."
Where the Americans were at Saturday night was an almost unthinkable proposition when they faced Canada here Friday night in the second semifinal of the 2014 Sochi Olympics men's hockey tournament. They took the ice as the darlings of the tournament, boasting an offense that was running roughshod, averaging almost five goals a game in a tournament where goals have been scarce.