For many Canadians, the high point of the Vancouver Olympics was the final competition, the gold-medal men’s hockey game, which had been circled on calendars north of the border since the British Columbia city was awarded the Winter Olympics back in 2003.
That anticipation became one of the biggest games in the sport’s history when the host nation advanced to the final in front of the rabid home fans, moving on to face the country’s biggest rival in the hockey world that happens to sit just 30 miles south of Canada Hockey Place - the United States.
And the game certainly didn’t disappoint, as the hosts raced out to a 2-0 lead, but the U.S. fought back, pulling even as Zach Parise, with just :24.4 left in regulation, sent the deciding game to overtime for the first time since 1994.
But the talent-laden Canadian roster — featuring nine NHL captains and three Hart Trophy winners for league MVP — capped a record Olympics for Canada with a 3-2 overtime win over the United States.
Sidney Crosby’s goal in overtime gave Canada its historic 14th gold medal.
“It’s gotta be right there,” Crosby - who won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins last spring - told NBC when asked if it was the biggest goal of his career. “This is a dream come true and playing for Team Canada and winning the gold medal.”
Facing intense pressure in front of a hockey-mad nation where nothing but the nation’s second gold medal in eight years would do, the hosts stumbled a bit in the round-robin portion of the tournament, needing overtime to beat Switzerland and losing to the U.S. in their third game, forcing them to win four games in six days to take the tournament.
“It was a little bit tougher [after the round-robin games], we dropped the game to the U.S. and had a close call against the Swiss,” Crosby told the network when asked about the slow start. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, a lot of great teams out there, and needed lot of work and extra effort to get there.
“We knew we had better, you always have to get your team going … and we really came together quickly,” he added.
But the Canadian team did just that, rolling past Germany, Russia and then outlasting Slovakia to earn a spot in the final, and avenged their loss to the United States a week ago in front of a red-clad crowd at the home of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks - some who paid thousands of dollars to be in attendance. The home nation won for the third time in the tournament’s history, with the United States claiming gold medal on home soil the other two times in 1960 and 1980.
As for the United States team, the defeat ended a strong showing. The Americans were undefeated heading into the final, despite having the youngest roster in the tournament. The silver medal is the Americans’ 37th in Vancouver, setting a new all-time record for total medals at a Winter Olympics.
Few experts expected a medal for the U.S. squad, overshadowed as it was by the more talented Canadian, Russian and Swedish clubs. The NHL’s players union had even booked several U.S. players’ plane tickets out of Vancouver back to their clubs before the gold-medal game was set to take place.
Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller did his best to get the U.S. to this stage, providing some highlight-reel saves during the tournament and keeping the Americans in Sunday’s contest despite some good chances for the hosts to put the U.S. away. For his efforts, Miller was voted the MVP of the tournament.
“We gained a lot of respect,” Miller told NBC after the loss. “Our guys came in as an afterthought. I think we started a new trend for USA Hockey.”
But the U.S. couldn’t become the first squad since the Soviet Union in 1988 to go through an entire tournament unbeaten and untied, and wasn’t able to avenge the nation’s 2002 gold-medal loss to Canada at Salt Lake.View Entire Story
Ted Starkey, a Web editor for the continuous news desk, has written for and edited high-traffic websites, including AOL News, AOL Sports, FanHouse.com, USAHockey.com and BuffaloBills.com. He also has covered the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympics, Stanley Cup playoffs, NFL, NHL, MLB and NCAA hockey during his career.
He is a graduate of American University, with a double major in ...
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