by Ralph Routon
Bobby Ryan, one of the U.S. team's young players at 22, scored the first goal of the Olympic men's hockey tournament with 1:01 left in the first period, giving the United States a 1-0 edge over underdog Switzerland at the first intermission in Canada Hockey Place.
Swiss goalie Jonas Hiller had stood up well in the early going, taking one blast off his upper chest and another off his mask. But Ryan grabbed a loose puck in the high slot and fired it past Hiller.
So far, it's just the kind of sluggish game that the Americans were concerned about in their Winter Games opener. One U.S. power play proved fruitless, and otherwise the Swiss seem to benefit more from the smaller ice sheet, with the U.S. holding only an 8-5 edge in shots on goal.
This Olympic tournament, for both men and women, is being played on a National Hockey League-size rink (85 feet by 200 feet), as opposed to the usual international size of 100 x 200 feet. That might not seem like much, but the NHL sheet is 3,000 square feet smaller (think about the size of a 3,000-square-foot house).
That difference has brought some grumbling from the Europeans, who are more accustomed to the international sheet with more room to maneuver and operate.
But the spectators obviously don't mind. It's a large crowd inside the arena that's normally known as General Motors Place and is home to the NHL Vancouver Canucks. In fact, tickets were being re-sold for as much as $150 each before the game.