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Greg Wyshynski

U.S. hockey deals with increased expectations, cult of celebrity

Fourth-Place Medal

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Appearing on the Ryan Seacrest radio show isn't the norm for Team USA goalie Ryan Miller. Neither is discussing his actress girlfriend Noureen DeWulf, whose name came up in the interview and whose image appeared on the sports blog The Big Lead with this delightful assessment: "She's got a thin resume but outstanding cleavage."

"Everyone's probably really interested in that now," said Miller of his relationship. "She came up for a few days, she's back in L.A. now. We're both busy people."

Sunday's win over Canada woke up the mainstream in America to USA hockey. The ratings were huge. The buzz is palpable; not only has Miller's name been trending on Twitter since the victory, but so has the tag "#doyoubelieveinMillercles."

"It was so much bigger than just here in Vancouver. It was huge all over the United States. My buddies sent me videos of them celebrating; some guys at Canisius College who ran around the whole campus with an American flag," said winger Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks.

"This city, after the game, was pretty quiet. It's almost like we shut down the city that night. Hopefully we can keep that going."

Winger Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks said he realized the magnitude of the victory when he was booed while walking around Vancouver with his family.

"Then we'd turn around and look at them, and they'd say ‘good game,'" he said. "It was all in good nature. They're very cordial."

Are the victory and the spoils going to the Americans' heads before Wednesday's rematch with Switzerland? Not if GM Brian Burke can help it.

He issued a gruff, brutal assessment of his team on Monday that resonated with the players, saying:

"We have to play significantly better. We need all hands on deck. We're playing with about 10 guys carrying us. ... Thank God there are some guys pulling on the rope, but we need everyone pulling on the rope."

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"The two best teams in this tournament are still [Russia and Canada]," Burke said. "We got outchanced 2-to-1. Our goaltender stole us the game. That's what happened. ... Except for the goaltending position, we didn't deserve to win that game."

Said Miller, when asked about Burke's words: "I think Burkie wants to keep us where we need to be, which is probably paranoid. We know what's at stake. Beating Canada wasn't the goal coming here. It was to beat any team in our way.

"People can start believing if we put in a solid effort tomorrow and a solid effort again."

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