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Malone: 'Pretty special, but we want more'

| Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010

Beating Canada at the Olympics for the first time since 1960 was a big deal for Upper St. Clair-born Team USA winger Ryan Malone, but it was hardly the most historic development of his first week at the Vancouver Olympics.

"Right now it's just my wife, my son, my parents and the in-laws, but for a while my dad's brother and three sisters were here, too," Malone said Monday on his way to taking in his first event as a spectator, the United States' women's hockey team semifinal showdown with Sweden.

"My dad said that was the first time he and those four were together since he was 10 years old - and wouldn't you know all but (he) made plans before the game against Canada. Kind of unlucky for them, right• Well, at least they'll have something to talk about."

Malone did not score a goal Sunday night in his upstart squad's 5-3 victory against the favored Canadians, but he had a lot to talk about with the Tribune-Review on a well-deserved off-day for the undefeated Americans.

Aside from beating Canada, what sticks out from your first Olympic week ?

Uh, everything. I told (Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik) that it reminded me of the "Mighty Ducks" movies because we had our gear on and we're eating in the cafeteria, and he and I are an arm's length away from one another in our room. You know Brooks: He's Mr. Organized, so everything is packed up neatly in his closet, and my bag in the middle of the room, open with stuff falling out.

Has former Penguins teammate Ryan Whitney lived up to his reputation as a dressing-room joker ?

He's special. We all know what. (laughs) Seriously, he's done a good job making everybody laugh. Maybe that's helped us so far - to have a loose room.

Might that change with expectations in America for the team to now win a gold medal ?

Well, we're playing in Vancouver and there aren't a lot of Americans up here to tell us how good we are. I don't think pressure is on us, to be honest. We know we can play better. We've got (coach Ron Wilson and general manager Brian Burke) telling us that and we realize that.

What has surprised you most about this team ?

Everybody knows their role, and we've all been professional about the job we've got here. When Bobby Ryan scored in the first game it was like a signal went off and we realized, 'OK, the tournament has started.' For me it was nice to contribute a couple of goals, but the best thing about our team is that everybody knows how they are expected to contribute.

Is there a running gag between players on and off the ice ?

Actually, it's something we've got going with (Wilson, who also coaches the Toronto Maple Leafs). After the Canada win, somebody said, "So, how does it feel to have your first three-game winning streak of the season?" I think he wanted to laugh.

Where does beating Canada rate among your career achievements ?

A: One of the best, though that (2008) playoff run with the Penguins was great. Still, to have that win in Canada is special. It's tough to explain the rivalry, but when they took the ice for warm-ups the crowd was going crazy. We scored first, and that place just went dead silent. It was really neat.

All these comparisons to the 1980 "Miracle On Ice" team ...

Those aren't coming from us. We don't really talk about it.

Plus, to hear Orpik talk before the Olympics, nobody on your team bought into the underdog tag ?

We weren't the favorites. We still aren't. We were never underdogs in our minds, though. When we got back to the room after beating Canada there were no crazy celebrations. I won't lie and say it wasn't a big win for us. It was pretty special, but we want more.

Is it gold or bust for this team ?

Every team here wants to win that gold medal, and we're not different. I don't think we're any more confident because we went undefeated (in round-robin play). People might be surprised to know how even-keeled we were today. There is a great challenge coming up, no matter who we play.

Has your team left an impression on the rest of the field ?

All I know is we're hard to play against. We've very hard to play against, and we're dangerous. We know it. That's what's important.

Did goalie Ryan Miller's performance against Canada top Marc-Andre Fleury's triple-overtime effort in Game 5 of the 2008 Cup Final ?

Mills looked really good, didn't he• I'd go with Fleury, maybe - because there were a lot more breakdowns by us against Detroit than we had against Canada. Some people are saying Mills faced a shooting gallery Sunday night, but how many breakaways did Canada have• I'm pretty sure Fleury was seeing those from the second period on against Detroit. Those are the two best goaltending performances I've seen, and I'm glad in both cases I had that guy on my team.

Where in Pittsburgh will Team Malone be watching the quarterfinal game Wednesday ?

Well, if I wasn't on the team I'd probably be watching on the big screen at my dad's house. That's not an option, so I guess everybody will be at a bar and hopefully we'll give them reason to go crazy.

Additional Information:

Malone's magic moments

Upper St. Clair native Ryan Malone shared some details with Tribune-Review sports writer Rob Rossi on Monday afternoon about the final minutes of the United States' 5-3 victory over Canada on Sunday night at the Olympics in Vancouver:

'After (Sidney Crosby) scored to make it 4-3, I was sitting on the bench praying: 'Whatever it may be, just let it be fast and let it be good.' I kept praying when (Ryan Kesler) scored the empty-net goal. Even though we were up by two, there were 44 seconds left and I didn't want to jinx it.'

'It was so quiet at the end of the game. You could hear everything. It was like nobody in the building could really believe what just happened - and there wasn't a lot of noise coming from (Canada's) dressing room once we all got off the ice.'

'The first song we played in our room was 'I Gotta Feeling' by the Black Eyed Peas. You know ... 'Tonight's gonna be a good night!' That song goes back with us to the summer orientation camp, and (Sunday) was a pretty good night.'

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