The excitement was palpable at Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi, Russia, on Feb. 15, 2014. The U.S. was facing Russia in one of the most boisterous Olympic hockey atmospheres that one can imagine, and came to a satisfying conclusion as T.J. Oshie led Team USA to a thrilling shootout win, 3-2. 

Such energy would have been hard to duplicate in Pyeongchang this February. Russia was competing on their home ice and American fans still harbor nostalgia from the "Miracle on Ice" from 1980.

But the latest news from International Olympic Committee means that there won't be a rematch, let alone U.S-Russia hockey drama.

The IOC on Tuesday announced the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee for "systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system.'' Russian athletes could be allowed to compete if they meet standards determined by an IOC-convened panel and as an "Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)" without their national flag or anthem.

It seems doubtful that Russian hockey stars will play under a neutral flag, especially with the possible threat of a Russian boycott and with President Vladimir Putin previously stating that it would be humiliating to compete without national symbols.

The probable absence of Russia creates a void of star power for Olympic hockey. There were four Russians in the 2017 NHL All-Star Game, and there would have been five if Evgeni Malkin had not missed the game due to injury. In comparison, Sweden, Finland and Denmark combined for a total of five All-Stars.

“I would love to go there (again),” goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who dueled with Oshie, said in January. “I think still it’s the biggest competition in the world, one of the big ones at least.”

Pavel Lysenkov of Sovietsky Sport told ESPN in November that the Kontinental Hockey League would eliminate their Olympic break if Russia was banned. The decision impacts the many international hockey players who play in the KHL and will now miss out on Olympic hockey.

Russian hockey was looking to shed their reputation for underachieving at the Olympics and after a particularly disappointing effort at Sochi. After finishing second behind the U.S. in Group A, Russia proceeded to lose to Finland in the quarterfinals, 3-1. At the Vancouver Games in 2010, Russia again failed to reach the medal round, losing to Canada in the quarterfinals, 7-3. The last time Russia earned a medal was a bronze at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

An interesting note surrounding Russia's suspension is that superstar Alex Ovechkin's decision to sit out the Olympics now becomes moot. In September, the Washington Capitals center said that "the Olympics are in my blood and everyone knows how much I love my country," but conceded that he "has to accept" not playing.