After the great disappointment of Nagano, when Canada failed to win a medal despite a tremendous lineup and gold-medal expectations, Canada was leaving nothing to chance four years later. Wayne Gretzky, who was not selected in the shootout against the Czechs in 1998, had retired and been named Canada’s general manager, and he surrounded himself with a roster of executives unlike anything in Canada’s hockey history.
Collectively, they chose the 20 skaters and three goalies who would try to bring their country Olympic glory for the first time since 1952.
But after just one game, questions and concerns were flying as a result of an impressive 5-2 win by Sweden. The Canadians kept their cool, however, and came together as a team in time for the playoff round. They beat Finland 2-1 in the quarter-finals game and then were denied a chance to avenge the earlier loss to Tre Kronor when Belarus stunned the Swedes, 4-3. As a result, Canada had an easy time in the semi-finals, beating Belarus 7-1 and advancing to the gold-medal game.
On the other side of the draw, the Americans were coached by Herb Brooks, the hero who led the “Miracle on Ice” team of 1980 to an improbable gold medal. Brooks took his team through the preliminary round with two wins and an exciting 2-2 tie with Russia. They hammered Germany 5-0 in their quarter-finals game and then played Russia, again, in the semi-finals. It was one of the most exciting games of the tournament. The USA dominated the first two periods, building a 3-0 lead, but the Russians were overwhelming in the final period. They scored twice but couldn’t tie the game, setting up an all-North America game for the gold.
Tony Amonte drew first blood in the final game of the 2002 Olympic hockey tournament, giving the Americans a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. Paul Kariya tied the game a few minutes later on a brilliant play by Mario Lemieux. Chris Pronger passed Lemieux the puck, and he made the motion to one-time a shot. But, instead of shooting he let the puck go past him and onto the stick of Paul Kariya. Kariya had a wide-open net as goalie Mike Richter had positioned himself to stop Lemieux’s shot. Jarome Iginla put Canada up 2-1 late in the period, and the lead lasted most of the second.
Brian Rafalski tied the game for the USA late in the second, but Joe Sakic gave Canada a lead it would never relinquish when he scored another late-period goal. In the third period, Iginla and Sakic broke the game open with late goals, sending Canada to a 5-2 victory. Despite its tremendous history of hockey success, this was the first Olympic gold for Canada since 1952, exactly half a century earlier.
In almost every Canadian city, fans with flags took to the streets to rejoice in a way Italian fans celebrate a World Cup soccer win. The gold in Salt Lake City was not only a sports success. It was a win that boosted the collective spirit of an entire nation. The 1952 Edmonton Mercurys were no longer the last Canadian team to win an Olympic hockey gold medal. Finally, a drought that lasted 50 long years was over.
03:04 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Niedermayer, interference
08:49 – 🇺🇸 GOAL – Amonte (Weight, Poti)
10:03 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Fleury, cross checking
14:54 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Kariya (Pronger, Lemieux)
18:33 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Iginla (Sakic, Gagné)
29:27 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Hull, hooking
30:19 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Miller, high sticking
34:40 – 🇨🇦 PEN – MacInnis, interference
35:30 – 🇺🇸 PP GOAL – Rafalski (Modano)
37:30 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Roenick, tripping
38:22 – 🇨🇦 PP GOAL – Sakic (Jovanovski, Blake)
53:43 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Yzerman, tripping
56:01 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Iginla (Yzerman, Sakic)
58:40 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Sakic (Iginla)
W: 🇨🇦 Brodeur (31-33)
L: 🇺🇸 Richter (34-39)
SHOTS ON GOAL
🇨🇦 11+17+11 = 39
🇺🇸 10+14+9 = 33
🇨🇦 Goaltenders: Martin Brodeur, Curtis Joseph. Defence: Rob Blake, Eric Brewer, Adam Foote, Ed Jovanovski, Al MacInnis, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger (A). Forwards: Theoren Fleury, Simon Gagné, Jarome Iginla, Paul Kariya, Mario Lemieux (C), Eric Lindros, Joe Nieuwendyk, Owen Nolan, Michael Peca, Joe Sakic (A), Brendan Shanahan, Ryan Smyth, Steve Yzerman.
🇺🇸 Goaltenders: Mike Dunham, Mike Richter. Defence: Chris Chelios (C), Phil Housley, Brian Leetch, Aaron Miller, Tom Poti, Brian Rafalski, Gary Suter. Forwards: Tony Amonte, Adam Deadmarsh, Chris Drury, Bill Guerin, Brett Hull, John LeClair, Mike Modano, Jeremy Roenick, Brian Rolston, Keith Tkachuk, Doug Weight, Mike York, Scott Young.
|🇨🇦 CANADA (C)||vs.||UNITED STATES 🇺🇸|
(since 22 Feb 2002)
||19 Apr 1997|
(+ 3 ties)
|First IHLC Meeting (CAN vs. USA)
🇨🇦 CAN 2-0 USA 🇺🇸 – 25 Apr 1920 – OG – Antwerp 🇧🇪
|Previous IHLC Meeting (CAN vs. USA)
🇨🇦 CAN 5-1 USA 🇺🇸 – 20 Apr 1997 – EX – Winnipeg 🇨🇦
|Last IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 7-1 BLR 🇧🇾 – 22 Feb 2002 – OG – West Valley City 🇺🇸
|Next IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 4-3 SWE 🇸🇪 – 24 Apr 2002 – EX – Jönköping 🇸🇪