Sunday, February 24, 2002 Updated: February 25, 5:28 PM ET
Young and old lead Canada to gold
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah -- The Maple Leaf dollar buried in
America's home ice turned out to be a golden omen for Canada.
The Canadians finally ended an agonizing 50-year wait for the
Olympic gold medal in their national sport, beating the United
States as Jarome Iginla and Joe Sakic each scored twice in a
historic 5-2 victory Sunday.
Team USA goalie Mike Richter made many spectacular saves to keep his team in the game.
The loss ended U.S. coach Herb Brooks' quest to lead a second
gold-medal winning team 22 years after the famous "Miracle on
Ice" with a group of college players.
Maybe it was because the Americans really didn't have the
As the Edmonton Oilers' ice specialists made the surface at the
E-Center rink, they sank a loonie -- a golden Canadian dollar coin --
into it for good luck.
"I dug it up and we're going to give it to the Hockey Hall of
Fame," Team Canada executive director Wayne Gretzky said.
Remarkably, Canada's gold came 50 years to the day an amateur
team called the Edmonton Waterloo Mercurys won the nation's last
Olympic gold. In 1998, Canada easily won its first four games, only
to be eliminated by eventual champion Czech Republic.
The Canadians' victory ended the U.S. men's team 70-year
unbeaten streak on Olympic home ice -- three days after the American
women's team also lost to Canada in the final.
"We took a lot of inspiration from how the women's team
played," defenseman Chris Pronger said.
Paul Kariya and Iginla scored less than four minutes apart in
the first period as Canada seized the lead after falling behind
1-0. Brian Rafalski tied it in the second period after the
Americans killed off a two-man advantage, but Canada regained the
lead on Sakic's goal later in the period.
In the third, Iginla redirected Steve Yzerman's shot from the
left point with just under four minutes left to increase Canada's
lead, then Sakic added his second goal.
Right then, Gretzky, the dominant figure in Canadian hockey for
a quarter-century, jumped up wildly in his private box, pumping his
fists and waving his arms.
Canada's pursuit of the gold medal mesmerized Canadians, with
the CBC predicting the afternoon game would draw the largest TV
audience in the nation's history -- not just for sports, but for any
"You don't know what it's like to have a piano on your back. No
other team had more pressure than ours," defenseman Al MacInnis
said. "Everybody in Canada was watching with the same intensity
that we played the game with. It's amazing the way a sport can
bring the country together."
The American loss came despite goals by Tony Amonte and Brian
Rafalski, and was the first for the United States in 25 Olympic
games (21-1-3) on U.S. ice since a 2-1 loss to Canada in 1932.
Brooks had been 10-0-2 in Olympic games.
"We would have loved to win, but if we couldn't, there's nobody
better to do it," U.S. forward Jeremy Roenick said. "We were
playing hockey's creators."
Shortly after the game ended, Canada captain Mario Lemieux
hugged Brooks, a scout for the Lemieux-owned Pittsburgh Penguins.
"It probably was a good time to ask for a raise," Brooks said.
Just as Brooks' team did in its 4-2 victory over Finland for the
gold in Lake Placid in 1980, the United States trailed by a goal
going into the third period. This time, the Americans had no answer
for Canadian goalie Martin Brodeur, who was playing behind Curtis
Joseph when the tournament began.
Brodeur turned aside 31 shots to outduel Mike Richter, who made
the more spectacular saves but could not halt a succession of
Canadian odd-man rushes in the first two periods. Brodeur is the
son of Denis Brodeur, the team photographer who was the goalie on
Canada's bronze-medal winning team in 1956.
The gold was redemption for Gretzky, who got a post-game call on
the ice from Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien. Gretzky drew
heavy criticism when Canada was routed 5-2 in its Olympic opener by
Sweden, then barely beat Germany.
After that, Canada had an easy route to the final, beating only
Germany, Finland and Belarus, while the Americans twice played
bronze medalist Russia.
"Getting smoked by Sweden probably was a good thing, because we
knew we had to get better," Sakic said.
They did, helping to create the kind of riveting, intense game
the NHL was hoping for when it sent its players to the Olympics for
the first time four years ago.
Canada scored as many goals -- five -- as the Americans' first
five opponents and controlled the Mike Modano-Brett Hull line that
had produced nine goals and 10 assists in five Olympic blame.
After both Brooks and Canada coach Pat Quinn predicted a
low-scoring game, Tony Amonte's goal in the first period looked
huge. But Kariya answered just over six minutes later, one-timing
Chris Pronger's cross-ice pass.
Iginla, the Calgary Flames' star and NHL scoring leader, made it
2-1 with about a minute left in the first. As Sakic's shot from the
left circle arrived wide of the net, Iginla craftily put down his
stick blade to direct it past Richter, the star of the 1996 World
Cup upset of Canada.
The game's key moment seemed to come when the Americans,
frantically trying to get the momentum back, killed off a Canadian
5-on-3 advantage lasting 1:08 midway through the second period,
with Lemieux fanning on a wide-open shot at the side of the net.
That gave the Americans a big lift, and Rafalski scored on a
power play. But Roenick drew a tripping penalty that led to the
biggest goal, Sakic's shot through Richter's pads toward the end of
the second period.
"Maybe," Roenick said, "they're just destined to win it every