For the first time in 50 years, the U.S. men’s hockey team beat Canada in Olympic play. Of course, being one of the few hockey junkies left in this country, I?desperately wanted to talk about it with fellow puckheads — except very few of them knew where to find it on television Sunday night.

The United States hockey team is in the midst of a very special celebration ... and it has nothing to do with the 30th anniversary of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team that upset Russia on the way to eventually winning the gold medal.

For the first time in 50 years, the U.S. men’s hockey team beat Canada in Olympic play. Of course, being one of the few hockey junkies left in this country, I?desperately wanted to talk about it with fellow puckheads — except very few of them knew where to find it on television Sunday night.

NBC, which carries the NHL during the regular season as well as the Stanley Cup finals, buried it on MSNBC.

With a chance to promote a sport that is dying in this country, NBC got exactly what it wanted — an epic hockey game between neighboring regions with the underdog U.S. pulling off the upset.

Yet they decided to show a series of other sports on the main station with almost no promotion for the U.S.-Canada game.

What makes it even more puzzling is that NBC carried Russia-Czech Republic live late that afternoon, but in primetime they dumped a game that more people in North America would want to see on a sister station?

The disturbing part is that NBC probably knows what it’s doing. They know tape-delayed skiing or figure skating or other events will get a better rating on NBC in primetime compared to men’s hockey. Even with much of the Olympics being shown on tape delay, the ratings have been pretty solid.

Those who missed the U.S. beat Canada 5-3 despite being outshot 45-23 did not see an exceptional performance from Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (42 saves). Chris Drury did what he did best during his time with the Sabres — score the goal that put the U.S. ahead for good.

The Americans scored in the first minute, then Canada answered less than a minute later before the U.S. quickly went back on top. Martin Brodeur had an uncharacteristically bad game in net for Canada, allowing four goals on 22 shots and misplaying several pucks behind his own net that led to a couple of the U.S. goals.

It had everything one would want from a hockey game, but there was little build up and not nearly as much recap on ESPN as some might expect for something that hadn’t happened since 1960.

Speaking of great hockey, Russia’s 4-2 victory over the Czech Republic was quite the skill-fest. It even included a visor-smashing open ice hit by Alexander Ovechkin on Jaromir Jagr that led to a dandy of a goal by Evgeni Malkin off a sweet cross-ice pass from Alexander Semin.

There is a lot of wonderful hockey being played in the Olympics, but even that can’t seem to make hockey relevant again in this country. So here’s a plea to fellow hockey die-hards like myself and others: Crack open the TV guides and go online to find when these games are being played and on what channel and check it out — you won’t be sorry.

On Tiger

Tiger Woods came off as genuine as he possibly could on Friday. Of course, that means not very genuine, because that’s just how it is.

I found it funny he made a point to say that he thought the rules don’t apply to him, yet his whole dog and pony show and robotic statement showed that he still thinks he is above the laws of society.

If I were advising Tiger, I would tell him to finish his therapy and get back on the golf course immediately. The only surprising part of his statement was when he said he would not rule out a return in 2010. I thought he would realize that once he starts winning tournaments again, these past few months would soon be known as “that sex scandal” Woods dealt with in the past.

When it comes down to it, we want to be entertained, and Woods can do that as well as anyone when he is doing what he knows best. Ask Alex Rodriguez, Kobe Bryant or Ray Lewis — just to name a few — what a great performance on the field can do to put off-the-field missteps on the back burner.

On Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant is slowly making Greg Oden the next Sam Bowie. Oden is easy to root for, so I?hope he can eventually overcome his injuries, but it will be tough for the Portland Trail Blazers to not regret passing on Durant. Also, it makes me wish the Supersonics could have survived just a little longer in Seattle and maybe Durant could have been the savior of basketball that Ken Griffey Jr. and the 1995 Mariners were for baseball in that city.

Paul Jannace writes for the Daily Reporter in Wellsville, N.Y.