SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Is any group of athletes facing more pressure in Sochi than the host country's men's hockey team?
If fans could have tailgated for Russia's quarterfinal game against Finland in Olympic Park, they would have. Crowds outside Bolshoy Ice Dome could be heard before the game all the way from the other side of Adler Arena, the speedskating rink about a 5-minute walk away. They waved flags, chanted "Ro-ssi-ya" and one group even tried the closest thing possible to scalping at the Sochi Games — trading tickets from the USA-Czech Republic quarterfinal scheduled for later Wednesday night.
From even before the first puck drop, fans were screaming when every player was introduced. And they got even louder as the game got under way.
The players on the ice responded in kind. When Ilya Kovalchuk scored on a slapshot nearly 8 minutes into the game, he pumped his fist then leaped into the air.
Things got quieted down when Finland's Juhamatti Aaltonen scored less than two minutes later.
— By Oskar Garcia — Twitter http://twitter.com/oskargarcia
Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu