SOCHI, Russia – Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick in a gritty, two-month battle to capture a Stanley Cup championship in 2012.
They were a band of brothers, giving them a bond that should not be broken. However, their friendship is currently on pause.
"I want to beat them pretty badly, along with the rest of their guys," Canada's Doughty said Thursday.
The new chapter in the intense Canada-USA hockey rivalry happens Friday when the two countries square off (noon ET, NBC Sports Network) in the semifinals in the men's hockey tournament. Finland and Sweden meet in the other semifinal.
"It's the biggest (rivalry) in hockey," U.S. coach Dan Bylsma said. "For a long time, Canada has been expected to win tournaments and the Americans have challenged that in recent years."
Canada has won two of the past three men's Olympic tournaments, and the USA was its opponent in the gold medal game. Thirteen members of the current U.S. Olympic team were on the team that lost to the Canadians in 2010 in Vancouver.
"You want those bragging rights for the rest of the season, for the rest of your life, really," Doughty said.
Doughty ran into Quick in Sochi, and they talked about what it will be like to play against each other.
"We talked about how hopefully it would come down to a shootout and hopefully I shot," Doughty said.
This will be a meeting of a soaring American team that seems to be playing the best hockey in the tournament against a Canadian team that hasn't been perfectly in sync. But the Americans view the Canadians as being just as dangerous as they always are, regardless of what they've done thus far in the tournament.
"If the Canadians have struggled or they're deep, those things don't matter at this point in time," Bylsma said. "It will be 60 minutes and will come down to one goal."
The Canadiens want to win this game as badly as they always do. "You want those bragging rest of the season and for the rest of your life really," Doughty said.
The Americans need to win this game. This generation of U.S. players needs to establish its place among the hockey superpowers, much like the previous American generation did when it won the 1996 World Cup.
This American generation doesn't want to go down 0-2 in important games during hockey's Cold War.
"There are obvious geographic similarities, there's the style of games that are very similar," U.S. center David Backes said. "World Cups. World Juniors. And another chapter gets written tomorrow night."