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Gold Medal Game Loss Not Forgotten

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

As members of the United States' 2010 Olympic team, the loss to Canada in the gold-medal game hasn't escaped the minds of Erik Johnson and Paul Stastny.

"I never look at it as winning a silver (medal)—I always think that we lost that gold medal game," Stastny said to NHL Network during day one of USA Hockey's pre-Olympic orientation camp in Arlington, Va. "Maybe down the road you will look back and realize what kind of an accomplishment that was, but to me, the competitive guy that I am, all the guys around here – all the guys wearing a USA jersey – we want to kind of redeem ourselves and give ourselves a chance to play for that gold medal."

Canada celebrates after scoring the winning goal in overtime during the 2010 Olympic gold medal game in Vancouver, B.C.

The 2010 final was one of the most exciting hockey games in recent years. Canada jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the United States came back and tied the game with 24.4 seconds left in regulation, sending the contest to overtime. The overtime period saw each team trade scoring chances before Canada broke through at 7:40 of the extra frame, winning gold on home soil and sending the U.S. to its second silver medal in eight years.

In the 3 ½ years since, Johnson said he has relived that game plenty of times.

"You kind of toss and turn in bed about that one," Johnson said. "Just thinking one goal away from gold."

The two Avalanche players were among the 48 players invited to participate at USA Hockey's pre-Olympic camp and will do their best to make the final 23-man team over the next several months.

This week's USA camp doesn't have any on-ice practice elements to it, but it is still an important time for the players to get to know each other and build chemistry for the February Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Stastny said one of the reasons why a young U.S. team in 2010 was able to have so much success and get to the championship game was because of that chemistry.

"As the tournament went on, I think we got closer and closer (as a group)," he said.

"When you do play these two-week tournaments, these international tournaments, the most important thing is what team comes together first and who is playing as a team instead of individuals, putting all the egos aside and playing for what is on your chest instead of what is on your back."

Erik Johnson (third from left) looks on as Canada celebrates at the 2010 Olympic Games.

For Johnson, playing for Team USA has been a staple of his hockey career. He's played in USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, at two world junior championships and two world championships, but the Olympics was the top international experience for him.

"It was surreal. You don't know what to expect," Johnson said of his Olympic experience. "I was just 21 and being a young kid, I think you really appreciate what you went through after the fact when you look back at it, when you see how you were an Olympian and you got a medal in a great place in Vancouver. And we were one goal away from gold."

Duchene At Canada Camp

Across the continent, Matt Duchene is participating in Canada's pre-Olympic orientation camp in Calgary, Alberta.

Like the Americans, the Canadians don't have any on-ice components, but that didn't stop the coaches from getting the players to do a walk-through on the arena floor to get them used to playing their systems and on a larger ice surface.

"It wasn't a stroll in the park I guess," Duchene said with a smile after the session. "It was a little difficult, but everyone is trying to grasp the systems, and obviously we are on shoes and running with the ball, which is not what we are used to. There is no glide out here at all."

Canada's camp goes until Wednesday.

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