Taylor switches goalies again Dunham for Snow LILLEHAMMER 94

February 19, 1994|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

LILLEHAMMER, Norway -- The United States hockey team played its best game of the Winter Olympics Thursday night in a 3-3 tie with Canada, so one would not think there would be any major changes in the lineup.

Wrong.

Coach Tim Taylor raised a few eyebrows yesterday by replacing starting goalkeeper Garth Snow with Mike Dunham.

Snow, from Wrentham, Mass., has played exceptionally well in the past two games against Slovakia and Canada, making 59 saves. If Snow hadn't been superb in the first period, the Canadians might have won in a rout.

He replaced Dunham after Dunham's subpar performance in the United States' 4-4 tournament-opening tie with France.

Taylor has said he wanted a hot goalkeeper. If Snow got any hotter, he would melt.

"Mike has been peaking as a goaltender," said Taylor. "He played very well for us at the beginning of our pre-Olympic tour and again at the end of the tour. I think Mike is very capable."

Taylor expects Sweden (2-0-1) to play in traditional European form. The Swedes take few shots, but when they do, they are of a high percentage.

Dunham uses excellent position, while Snow is more of a free lancer who is able to start offensive breaks.

Dunham started all three pre-Olympic games against Sweden, posting an 0-2-1 record with a 4.35 goals-against average and a .876 save percentage.

"Dunham has played very well against Sweden and has been a very effective goaltender for us in international competition," said Taylor. "When we told Garth that he was going to play against Canada, we told Mike that he was going to play against Sweden."

"It's not that Mike would be a liability against Sweden," said Taylor. "There's a lot of mental stress and physical stress in playing goaltender."

Sweden is an explosive team that is averaging 5.0 goals a game. Six years ago, Sweden was in the same position as the United States.

Sweden tied its first three games, then won a bronze medal. Sweden features a trio of high-scoring forwards, Mats Naslund, Hakan Loob and Peter Forsberg. Naslund and Loob are NHL veterans, and Forsberg is considered one of the league's top prospects. He was the first choice, sixth overall, of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1991 entry draft.

"Sweden plays a great possession game, and when they don't have the puck, they do a good job of jamming at the neutral zone," said Taylor. "They play a strong defensive system that all of their players are committed to.

"You go into this game knowing that you're not going to have the puck very much, and when you do have it, you're going to face a formidable defensive system. We go into the game knowing Sweden is probably going to have the puck more than we are."

Swedish coach Curt Lundmark doesn't know what to expect from the Americans.

"From day to day, they play very different," said Lundmark. "Sometimes they really play for the country and for their heart. When they want to play, they have a very strong team."

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