Friday, July 12, 2013

Definitive Results of D2: The Mighty Ducks

If you grew up in the 90s two of the defining movies of your childhood were the Mighty Ducks and D2: The Mighty Ducks. You could debate all day about which movie was better or the relative merits of a group of kids that couldn't skate a year later beating national teams from around the globe. But rationality and laws of physics aside, there was always something strange about the Ducks/Team USA's trek through the tournament in D2. Was it the seemingly random teams they played? How did Trinidad and Tobago field a hockey team?

At the very beginning of the competition we see this brief image of a standings board:

The real question is: How were hockey powerhouses Finland, Czech Republic and Slovakia excluded?

Since Disney apparently didn't have anyone on their writing staff that knew how a tournament worked, the 10 teams in the competition are separated into two groups of 5. This would seemingly imply that the tournament would start with a Round Robin format (play every team in your group) and the top teams would proceed to the next stage. However, for dramatic effect, we are told that this is a Double Elimination tournament. Under normal conditions, a double elimination tournament would look something like this:

In this instance, teams are merely bracketed and move forward in the competition. There is no Round Robin play amongst teams.

However, given Team USA's first few opponents in D2, we know that there is some type of Round Robin scheduling, at least at the beginning. Given the context clues that we have, we can more or less extrapolate the results of the rest of the tournament. To make things easier, I'm going to break it down into "rounds" of games.

Round 1

We see the scoreboard before the USA's first game shows that 3 games have been played already. Since Trinidad has already played a game (and lost) I am going to assume that the US played their first game in "Round 2" and that each "round" consists of 3 games.

What we know: In Group A, Iceland and Germany have wins while Italy and Trinidad have losses. In Group B, Russia has a win and Sweden has a loss.

What we can assume: The tournament schedule does not include crossing over between groups until later in the tournament (because if it did the US would have played someone from Group B in their first game rather than Trinidad Tobago).

What we can guess: To balance out the number of games, let's say that Canada beat Denmark in Round 1 with the US and France having "byes."

Group A: Iceland (1-0), Germany (1-0), USA (0-0), Italy (0-1), Trinidad (0-1)
Group B: Russia (1-0), Canada (0-0), France (0-0), Denmark (0-0), Sweden (0-1)

Round 2

What we know: The US beats Trinidad in their opening game, eliminating Trinidad from the tournament. Italy does not lose because they play the US in the next game.

What we can assume: With 3 games in each "round," Round 2 would consist of 1 game from Group A and two games from Group B.

What we can guess: Two games in Group B occur. Since we know Russia and Canada survive until the end of the tournament, we can guess that they didn't lose. We'll give Russia a bye and Canada a win over France and Sweden a win over Denmark.

Group A: Iceland (1-0), USA (1-0), Germany (1-0), Italy (0-1), Trinidad (0-2)
Group B: Russia (1-0), Canada (1-0), Sweden (1-1), France (0-1), Denmark (0-1)

Round 3

What we know: The US beats Italy and Goldberg makes a joke about meatballs. Italy is eliminated.

What we can assume: Round 3 features 2 games from Group A. Since Trinidad has already been eliminated, the only other possible game would be Iceland against Germany. We know Iceland is undefeated when they play the US, so Iceland knocks off Germany.

What we can guess: One game in Group B has to be part of Round 3. Since Russia did not play in Round 2 they play here in Round 3. To make things easy, let's say they beat Denmark, eliminating them from the competition.

Group A: Iceland (2-0), USA (2-0), Germany (1-1), Italy (0-2), Trinidad (0-2)
Group B: Russia (2-0), Canada (1-0), Sweden (1-1), France (0-1), Denmark (0-2)

Round 4

What we know: Iceland embarrasses Team USA.


What we can assume: Just as the top two teams in Group A meet in Round 4, the top teams in Group B meet as well. Since we know Russia loses to the US in the round before the Championship, the safe assumption is that Canada prevails here.

What we can guess: With Denmark eliminated, the only other remaining teams in Group B are Sweden and France. Sweden takes care of business and eliminates the French.

Group A: Iceland (3-0), USA (2-1), Germany (1-1), Italy (0-2), Trinidad (0-2)
Group B:  Canada (2-0), Russia (2-1), Sweden (2-1), France (0-2), Denmark (0-2)

Round 5

What we know: Gordon Bombay is too busy wallowing in his own tears to show up to coach against Germany. He shows up halfway through the third period and the Flying V carries the US to victory. Germany is eliminated.

What we can assume: Russia played Sweden already and since we are not crossing over between groups yet, we can assume that Canada beat Sweden, eliminating the Swedes from the tournament

What we can guess: With four teams remaining in the tournament, the tournament organizers match up the top teams in each group against the second place teams from the opposite group in the next round. The secret hope is that both Canada and Iceland will win, setting up an essential best-of-three between undefeateds Canada and Iceland for the Championship.

Group A: Iceland (3-0), USA (3-1), Germany (1-2), Italy (0-2), Trinidad (0-2)
Group B:  Canada (3-0), Russia (2-1), Sweden (2-2), France (0-2), Denmark (0-2)

Round 6 (Quarter-Finals)

What we know: Gordon Bombay gets the team back to business. Luis Mendoza knocks over a bunch of pop cans in practice. We don't actually see either of these games but are shown the following newspaper clippings:

What we can assume: The sub-header to the US article was "Marx Bros? No, Bash Bros!" As corny as that is, Portman and Reed apparently imposed their will physically over the Canadians. Whoever wrote the article on the Russia-Iceland game was probably fired the next day. Seriously, look at the text again:

What we can guess: Much to the chagrin of the tournament organizers, all four teams still remain. Iceland has played the US and Russia, leaving their obvious opponent for the next round as Canada. The good news is that this becomes a de facto single-elimination bracket since each of the four remaining teams have one loss.

Group A: Iceland (3-1), USA (4-1), Germany (1-2), Italy (0-2), Trinidad (0-2)
Group B:  Canada (3-1), Russia (3-1), Sweden (2-2), France (0-2), Denmark (0-2)

Round 7 (Semi-Finals)

What we know: Russ Tyler's knucklepuck knocks off Russia and sends the USA to the Championship against Iceland.

What we can assume: Iceland beat Canada in the other "semi-final."

What we can guess: 15-year old Canadian goaltender Roberto Luongo is scarred for life after getting embarrassed by Gunner Stahl.

Round 8 (Championship)

What we know: The United States, through a bizarre sequence of NBA-style plays, uniform changes and illegal goalie swaps, ties Iceland in the closing seconds and sends the game to an automatic shootout. Gunner Stahl completely blows the effectiveness of the triple-deke by pulling up and taking a slapshot.

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