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USA v. Canada in Men's Hockey at 11 a.m. from Sochi - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

USA v. Canada in Men's Hockey at 11 a.m. from Sochi

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(CNN) It's tough for an American to get angry at a Canadian, much less feel full-blown contempt. But that will change on Friday, when the U.S. hockey team takes the ice against our neighbors to the north in an Olympic semifinal that's certain to feel like a gold-medal game. The puck drops at 11 a.m. Central time -- watch on NBC Sports Network or online.

Most days, Canada seems as benign as a seldom-seen first cousin whose family lives somewhere north of Buffalo and cheerfully begs you to come ice fishing every winter. But on Friday, the mere sight of Canadians on skates will make American blood boil with memories of 2010.

That's when Canada, playing at home in Vancouver, won a desperate tug-of-war for the gold in overtime on a Sidney Crosby goal.

What made the outcome so painful for Americans was that the gritty U.S. squad had battled back from a 2-0 deficit and seemed fated to deliver the nation's best Olympic hockey moment since 1980's Miracle on Ice.

Instead, Canada was just a tad better in a riveting game that matched two fast-paced and physical teams that forechecked at every opportunity. It was the kind of game that made even non-hockey fans sit and stare.

But when Crosby's goal found the net, Sid the Kid might as well have been Jack the Ripper to most Americans.

"There's a lot of Canadians in our league so we want a better outcome than Vancouver," U.S. forward Max Pacioretty said (via Eric Matuszewski of Bloomberg.com). "No matter what, someone is going to hear about it for the next four years."

For the U.S., avenging the 2010 defeat—especially after beating Canada, 5-3, in Vancouver's preliminary rounds—also is a final step toward saying the American game is as good as the one that was built by Canadian superstars, from Maurice Richard and Gordie Howe, to Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky. 

"It's a team that you want to be able to beat to say that you played through the best," U.S. forward Patrick Kane said, according to The Associated Press' Greg Beacham (via ABCNews.con). "You've got to respect them, but at the same time, we have a chance to prove we're in the same sentence with Canada."

Another nagging source of frustration for the U.S. is that, for the last two decades, American teams have owned the ultimate symbol of hockey success, the Stanley Cup. The last Canadian team to take possession was the Montreal Canadiens, way back in 1993.

But Canadians will be quick to tell you that Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago and all the other U.S. teams that have won during that stretch couldn't have done it without manpower culled from their provinces.

Winning at Vancouver would have been fitting payback for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, when Canada ruined the American quest to reign on home ice.

Time hasn't healed those wounds and they only deepened Thursday in Sochi, when the U.S. women suffered a finals loss to Canada that was so heartbreaking it will make the flight home seem longer than a trip to Mars.

Up 2-0 and ready to shed tears while "The Star Spangled Banner" played, the U.S. women instead were ambushed in the final 3:26 of regulation by a pair of Canadian goals and dragged into overtime. There, the Canadian women prevailed against the U.S., just as they also did in the 2002 and 2010 Olympic finals.

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