USA Hockey published a story on their website yesterday outlining the hype leading up to the Sunday tilt between the U.S. and Canada in men's hockey. The article mentions that the excitement surrounding this game could surpass the gold medal match should the Canadians fail to get there, and also talks about how tickets originally sold for $50-140 are now being resold for 4-digit prices. The lead for this piece is not done in a traditional "straight news" format. Instead, that isn't offered until the second graf. I'll include the first two grafs here:
That huge gust of wind that came blowing across the border on Thursday was not another Canadian cold front. It was a huge sigh of relief from Canadian hockey fans after Sidney Crosby's shootout goal lifted the home team over a spirited Swiss squad.
If the Canadians were looking past the same Swiss team that shut them out at the 2006 Torino Olympic Winter Games and focusing on Sunday's third and final preliminary round game against the Americans, they wouldn't be the only ones. It seems that everybody on both sides of the border has long since circled this game on the Olympic schedule.
I like the decision to offer a bit of background before getting in to the "meat" of the story. It's kind of feature piece, so I think the decision works well. By offering that first graf, it is able to set up an idea that plays well in the lead (that the Canadian team, as well as all North American hockey fans, have been looking forward to Sunday's game since it was first announced). As far as the second graf, I wouldn't suggest any sort of changes. It does a good job of introducing the hype surrounding the U.S.-Canada game, as well as suggesting how much the players themselves are focusing on a game that will not have any direct impact on who wins medals in the 2010 Olympics (both the Americans and the Canadians would qualify out of the preliminary round regardless of who wins the game). But Sundays match-up was one with a lot of pride at stake, and a game that showcased one of the great rivalries in international sport. The lead adequately suggests as much.