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"Canadians are always dreaming up a lotta ways to ruin our lives. The metric system, for the love of God! Celsius! Neil Young!" - Gus, "Canadian Bacon."

U.S. and Canadian hockey fans have their cute little squabbles. There's no reason to recap the various generalizations and slurs tossed between the two -- although let it be said that we have never believed in rampant Canadian bias among NHL officials, because that would require a level of thoughtfulness and competency many of them have yet to attain as functioning adults. But whenever there's a chance for a little North American Civil Ice War (bugger off for a moment, Mexico), it's a reason to celebrate and get our rivalry on.

The two nations will battle this afternoon (3:20 p.m. EST) in the IIHF World Championships, the final preliminary game for both squads in their group; in fact, the Americans are trying to become the first U.S. hockey squad to win all three preliminary games in the World Championships. Both Team Canada and Team USA rolled through Slovenia and Latvia. The Canadian roster could be confused with an all-star team, while the American roster (.doc) could double as the checklist for a rookie card set from Upper Deck -- outside of Jeff Halpern, Tim Thomas and Robert Esche, of course. As Patrick Kane told TSN: "You look at both rosters and there's so many young guys on either team so it should be a long heated battle for a while. It should be a good atmosphere."

Team USA has been trying to stay loose with some goofy soccer fun, but this would appear to be a rather daunting task: Canada holds a 45-4-2 rivalry advantage in international hockey, which almost makes up for the fact that the Stanley Cup has been in U.S. hands since "Mrs. Doubtfire" was in theaters. What's interesting here, however, is that two of Team Canada's players -- Ryan Getzlaf and Brent Burns -- took part a rare defeat to Team USA in the 2004 World Junior Hockey Championship, a.k.a. Zach Parise's bar mitzvah. "It sucked. It was brutal," said Getzlaf told CanWest. "It was one of the worst things I've been through, having something so close and having it taken away." Think he's motivated?

A group of appealing American athletes facing insurmountable odds against a hated rival; say, that wouldn't be something U.S. sports fans would want to experience, would it? Because they can't, unless they're following the Team USA live blog or they're paying for an Internet feed of the game or listening to it for free on Fan 590. If you're an American puckhead fed up with the way the game is being treated, even by hockey's alleged television allies, do yourself a favor and read The Legend Of Vincent Tremblay's blistering screed against the mainstream sports media and the NHL. If you ever wondered what Howard Beale (video) would sound like as a fed-up hockey fan, there you go.

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