In the first two decades of Canada Cup/World Cup of Hockey competition, the United States went from laughingstock to champion. You could say that fans got to witness first-hand the evolution of USA Hockey from minnow to world power during the life of this event. The 1976 USA squad was mockingly referred to as Team Useless by hockey experts. The biggest names on that team were future NHL coaches Robbie Ftorek and Mike Milbury. The remainder of the roster was filled out with journeymen NHLers, some WHA players and many minor leaguers.
It was considered a moral victory when the Americans went 1-3-1, beating Finland to avoid a last-place finish. But by 1991, the USA was facing Canada for the Canada Cup title and five years later, the newly-minted World Cup of Hockey belonged to Team USA, which beat the Canadians 2-1 in the best-of-three final.
As much as the Miracle On Ice - Team USA's 1980 Olympic gold medal win in Lake Placid over the mighty Soviets - is billed as the greatest moment in USA Hockey history, no one shoud discount the historic significance of the 1996 World Cup of Hockey win by the Americans.
Pitting all of the world's best players against each other as a precursor to the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, when the NHL would pause its season to allow all of its players to compete in the Games for the first time, that 1996 American triumph is often viewed as the coming out party for what many view as the golden age of USA Hockey.
That 1996 team was led by so many American NHL greats, from goalie Mike Richter, to defensemen Chris Chelios and Brian Leetch and forwards Brett Hull, Mike Modano and Jeremy Roenick. Beating Canada in the final was their crowning achievement.
US Hockey Team Next Game
While not as deep as the Canadians, and perhaps even a little bit behind the Swedes, Russians and Finns in terms of depth of talent for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, you'd be foolish to count the USA out.
They will be led by Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, the reigning Hart and Art Ross Trophy holder. In goal they can turn to Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick or Stanley Cup and Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop. Ryan Suter, Ryan McDonagh, John Carlson and Dustin Byfuglien anchor the defense, while proven goal scorers such as Joe Pavelski and Max Pacioretty join Kane up front.
The Americans won't be billed as the team to beat in the World Cup of Hockey, but it will take some kind of team to beat the Americans.
Here's where you can find all the details of Team USA's World Cup of Hockey schedule and if you're looking for one game to circle on your calendar, look no further than Tuesday, Sept. 20, when age-old rivals Canada and the United States clash.
In seven previous tournaments, the winner of this game has gone on to win the tournament six times, the only exception coming in the 1981 Canada Cup, when the Soviet Union won the title.
Canada held a 7-0-1 edge over the Americans in Canada Cup history, but the pendulum swung when the tournament was reimagined as the World Cup of Hockey. Since 1996, it's the Americans who hold a 3-2 edge over the Canadians in head-to-head meetings.
What Are The Current US Hockey Team Standings
The World Cup of Hockey standings listed below figure to be a real horse race, a race to the finish line in which two of four teams in each of the two groups in this eight-team event will survive to skate in the semi-finals.
If tournament history is any indication, expect that Team USA will be one of the four survivors when pool play is complete. Since the second Canada Cup was contested in 1981, the United States has advanced to the semi-final stage in five of six Canada Cups/World Cups of Hockey, missing out only in 1987.
The Americans were losing semi-finalists in the 1981 and 1984 Canada Cups and in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. They were the losing finalist to Canada in the 1991 Canada Cup and defeated the Canadians to win the final of the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
US Hockey Team Online Betting Tips
Oddsmakers are of the opinion that the United States will be one of the teams to advance through the round-robin stage of the World Cup of Hockey, but are divided on just how far they think the Americans can go once they get to the playoff stage of the tournament.
PaddyPower has the Americans as second choice in the betting behind Canada (-187) at +260. BetOnline views the Americans as co-second favorites along with the Russians and Swedes, all listed at +450 in their World Cup of Hockey futures book.
Other sportsbooks are less sold on the chances of the United States getting to the World Cup of Hockey final stage. TopBet puts the United States (+550) at No. 4, behind the Canadians (-125), Russia (+450), and Sweden (+500). Bovada rates Team USA as fourth likely to win the tournament at +600, trailing Canada (-105), Russia (+400), and Sweden (+500).
Where Can I Bet On US Hockey Team Online
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For decades, the sons of Canada have proven to be valuable assets for Team USA. Right from the first Canada Cup, American-born sons of Canadian NHLers have been part of the USA Hockey program. In 1976, it was Craig Patrick, a descendant of the legendary Patrick line that is part of the evolutionary fabric of Canadian hockey. In 1981, it was Mark Howe, son of Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe, who donned the red, white and blue.
Brett Hull, offspring of the Golden Jet Bobby Hull, carried on the tradition in the 1991 1996 and in 2004 tournaments, and this year, it is Zach Parise who will be the man. The Minnesota Wild forward was born in that state, where his dad Jean-Paul Parise played for the NHL's Minnesota North Stars from 1968-75 and again in 1978-79 but is best remembered or his role with Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.