When the NHL decided to revamp the Canada Cup in 1996, hosting the tournament in cities across the globe and expanding to eight teams in the first post-Soviet “best on best” tournament, many scoffed at the idea, seeing this as simply a renaming of the tournament Canada had become known to dominate, winning four of the five previous Canada Cup tournaments.
Team USA, however, had other ideas. Not quite on the scale as the “Miracle On Ice” in terms of the unlikelihood, but still the biggest American hockey victory in a generation, the U.S. won the third game of the best of three final 5-2 over Canada, on enemy ice, to capture their first World Cup Of Hockey, and also retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
After a narrow Canada overtime win in Game 1 and a 5-2 U.S. thumping in Game 2, fans at the Centre Molson were unsure what to expect. What they got, similar to the rest of the series, was a chippy, grinding, back and forth tilt, with both Mike Richter and Curtis Joseph on their game. Just one puck found the back of the net in the first, a Brett Hull power play bomb on a one-time feed from Brian Leetch, that put Team USA ahead after twenty minutes.
Fists flied at a more furious pace in the second, with tempers flaring on both ends, the prime participants being Eric Lindros and Adam Foote of Canada and Bill Guerin and Keith Tkachuk of Team USA. With tempers boiling over, and Joseph and Richter continuing to play brilliantly (including a spectacular diving save by Richter on a shorthanded breakaway from Vincent Damphousse), the boiling point hit with just less than two minutes in the period.
Foote slashed Tkachuk on the back of the ankle during a scrum, dropping Tkachuk to the ice; upon getting back to his feet, Tkachuk responded with a two-handed slash on Foote’s arm, automatically incurring a major penalty and game misconduct. And with a late Derian Hatcher penalty putting Canada on the PP, Lindros just needed to slide in an innocuous Paul Coffey point shot rebound along the ice past Richter to even things at 1-1. The same furious pace started the third, with Foote putting Canada ahead with a harmless looking wrist shot from the point with less than eight minutes to go. Montréal rejoiced, and Canada seemed to be in control.
But then, in one of the most epic collapses in Team Canada’s history, the Americans struck back in rapid fire. First, it was Hull again striking, redirecting a Leetch point shot with 3:18 to go to tie the game. Refusing to go to overtime, the Americans held an unbelievable rally to keep the puck in Canada’s red zone, with Tony Amonte finally outduelling a tired Joseph with a chipped in rebound to suddenly take the lead with 2:35 to go, silencing the Montréal crowd that was rearing for Canada’s fifth title less than five minutes earlier. Derian Hatcher added an empty netter, and just for additional salt in Canada’s wound, Adam Deadmarsh beat an already defeated Joseph with just 17 seconds to go, to put the final score at 5-2.
With the win, Team USA retains their 20th International Hockey Lineal Championship title, which they won from Canada in the second game of the final two nights earlier. This also marked the Americans’ second reign during the tournament, winning the IHLC from Canada in the group round and winning three more games before losing to Canada in Game 1 of the final. This game also marked the 33rd IHLC meeting between Canada and the U.S. (with Canada leading all-time 24-6-3 in that span), and the second straight Cup final between these teams, with Canada winning in 1991. Team USA would hold the title until April 1997, dropping the IHLC to Canada in a pair of pre-World Championship exhibition games in Winnipeg.
02:49 – PEN – Chelios, interference
07:37 – PEN – Lemieux, interference
10:29 – PEN – Damphousse, holding
11:18 – PP GOAL – Hull (Leetch, Weight)
25:08 – PEN – Lindros, high sticking
28:38 – PEN – Guerin, cross checking
30:16 – PEN – Chelios, slashing
30:42 – PEN – Fleury, roughing
30:42 – PEN – D. Hatcher, roughing
34:14 – PEN – Shsnahan, interference
38:05 – PEN – Foote, slashing double minor
38:05 – PEN – Tkachuk, slashing major + 10 min. misconduct
38:32 – PEN – Otto, roughing
38:32 – PEN – Stevens, roughing
39:13 – PEN – D. Hatcher, roughing
39:54 – PP GOAL – Lindros (Coffey, Gretzky)
43:29 – PEN – Coffey, high sticking
43:29 – PEN – Guerin, high sticking
52:50 – GOAL – Foote
56:42 – GOAL – Hull (Leetch)
57:25 – GOAL – Amonte (D. Hatcher, Smolinski)
59:18 – EN GOAL – D. Hatcher
59:43 – GOAL – Deadmarsh
W: Richter (35-37)
L: Joseph (20-25)
SHOTS ON GOAL
5+9+11 = 25
10+22+5 = 37
Goaltenders: Guy Hebert, Mike Richter. Defence: Chris Chelios, Derian Hatcher, Kevin Hatcher, Brian Leetch (C), Mathieu Schneider, Gary Suter. Forwards: Tony Amonte, Adam Deadmarsh, Bill Guerin, Brett Hull, Pat LaFontaine, John LeClair, Mike Modano, Joel Otto, Bryan Smolinski, Keith Tkachuk, Doug Weight, Scott Young.
Goaltenders: Martin Brodeur, Curtis Joseph. Defence: Paul Coffey, Éric Desjardins, Adam Foote, Scott Niedermayer, Lyle Odelein, Scott Stevens. Forwards: Rod Brind’Amour, Vincent Damphousse, Theoren Fleury, Adam Graves, Wayne Gretzky (C), Claude Lemieux, Trevor Linden, Eric Lindros, Mark Messier, Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan, Steve Yzerman.