Team Canada skated on to the Bell Centre ice Tuesday night decked out in a replica uniform commemorating the 1920 Winnipeg Falcons, a team that represented Canada in the first-ever Olympic hockey championships. The Falcons went on to win Olympic gold in Antwerp.
The sweaters had a talismanic quality, apparently, as the Canadians defeated the United States, 2-1, in front of a packed Bell Centre Tuesday night.
“You can’t mistake that big maple leaf no matter what that colour is,” Canada coach Pat Quinn said about the mustard-coloured sweaters.
The old-time symbolism was not lost in this modern, jet-setting global tournament as these arch-rivals locked up in a vintage back-alley meeting in the opening World Cup match for both clubs.
The Americans will face Russia in St. Paul, Minnesota, Thursday night, while Canada gets right back on the ice Wednesday night in Montréal against Slovakia, which has yet to play a game in this tournament.
But for the U.S. and Canada, the opening match was two games wrapped in one.
“It was really a tale of two games,” Canadian centre Joe Sakic said.
The Americans were returning to the site of their 1996 World Cup of Hockey triumph. While the team has drastically changed since that time, Canadian passion for the game has not and the Americans skated into a boiling cauldron of love and emotion.
Over the first 20 minutes of the game it appeared as though Canada was going to chase their southern neighbours straight to the border and bid them adieu.
“It’s an emotional game out there and Canada came out fired up,” American coach Ron Wilson said.
Canada’s game plan was simple and vintage in and of itself — dump the puck in and pound the defence.
“We had a simple plan to put the puck behind them and get them on their heels,” Quinn said.
The plan worked to perfection early on as Canada established a base camp behind the American net and goaltender Robert Esche. Mario Lemieux was calm and masterful moving the puck from that position and Martin St-Louis demonstrated that his haul of trophies last season was no fluke.
Indeed, it was St-Louis who created Canada’s first goal at 16:01 of the first period. He cycled through the right corner, picking his way through air-tight passages, worked a give-and-go with Joe Thornton, who was stationed at the goal line, walked to the bottom of the right circle, took the return pass and whipped a shot by the helpless Esche.
Just 3:05 into the second period, Sakic staked Canada to a 2-0 lead with a seeing-eye shot that deflected off Chris Drury’s leg.
That’s when the second game that Sakic spoke about kicked in.
“It started to happen after they made it 2-0,” Wilson said. “That might’ve been the boot in the pants for us to start competing.”
Some call it competing, the Canadians called it ornery.
“In the second period to get themselves going they went to the net hard and they got contact with me as a result,” Canadian goaltender Martin Brodeur said. “It’s part of the game and I don’t mind it. I’m a big guy. I can handle it.”
Brodeur’s teammates didn’t share his thoughts. The Americans began charging the Canadian net and soon it was the mustard-clad maple leafs who were back on their heels.
Bill Guerin blew a wrist shot by his former New Jersey Devils teammate from the right circle at 10:40 and stunned the Canadian crowd into silence.
Steve Konowalchuk continued the charge, plowing repeatedly into Brodeur. Finally, at 17:37, Konowalchuk ran Brodeur again and didn’t untangle himself fast enough for Canada’s liking. The action resulted in Lemieux dragging Konowalchuk to centre ice where the teams scrummed.
“That’s a bad trade off for us,” Quinn said. “They ran Brodeur three or four times and a guy like Mario has to do something like that to restore some sense out there.”
Scott Niedermayer and Jeff Halpern pulled out of the pile to conduct their own business and the packed Bell Centre house realized then and there that all this pre-tournament talk about the round robin being meaningless was hogwash.
In the third period, the Canadians settled back into their dump and chase game with a degree of effectiveness, but the Americans continued to develop chances. After seeing Canada dominate the first period in shots, 19-6, the Americans slowly fought their way back to respectability. Canada still won the shooting contest 32-24.
“Our job is to improve every game and I’m really pleased with the way we finished,” Wilson said.
The crowd of 21,273 got what they wanted — a Canadian victory — and the Americans walked out with their chins up. Old-time hockey is alive and very well, even in best-on-best global tournaments.
03:37 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Weight, high sticking
08:07 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Miller, interference
09:43 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Sakic, tripping
14:32 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Guerin, charging
16:01 – 🇨🇦 PP GOAL – St-Louis (Thornton, Niedermayer)
19:47 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Regehr, holding
22:33 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Halpern, holding
23:05 – 🇨🇦 PP GOAL – Sakic (Redden, St-Louis)
26:37 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Guerin, roughing
26:37 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Chelios, cross checking
26:37 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Morrow, cross checking / roughing double minor
27:22 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Regehr, holding
30:40 – 🇺🇸 GOAL – Guerin (Gomez)
33:03 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Niedermayer, interference
38:37 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Konawalchuk, interference double minor
38:37 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Lemieux, fighting major
38:37 – 🇺🇸 PEN – Halpern, fighting major
38:37 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Niedermayer, fighting major
W: 🇨🇦 Brodeur (23-24)
L: 🇺🇸 Esche (30-32)
SHOTS ON GOAL
🇨🇦 19+6+7 = 32
🇺🇸 6+12+6 = 24
🇨🇦 Goaltenders: Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo. Defence: Eric Brewer, Adam Foote, Ed Jovanovski, Scott Niedermayer, Wade Redden, Robyn Regehr. Forwards: Shane Doan, Simon Gagné, Dany Heatley, Jarome Iginla, Vincent Lecavalier, Mario Lemieux (C), Brenden Morrow, Brad Richards, Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth, Martin St-Louis, Joe Thornton.
🇺🇸 Goaltenders: Rick DiPietro, Robert Esche. Defence: Chris Chelios (C), Ken Klee, Brian Leetch, John-Michael Liles, Aaron Miller, Eric Weinrich. Forwards: Tony Amonte, Craig Conroy, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Bill Guerin, Jeff Halpern, Brett Hull, Steve Konawalchuk, Mike Modano, Brian Rolston, Keith Tkachuk, Doug Weight.
|🇨🇦 CANADA (C)||vs.||UNITED STATES 🇺🇸|
(since 25 Aug 2004)
||25 Aug 2004|
(+ 3 ties)
|First IHLC Meeting (CAN vs. USA)
🇨🇦 CAN 2-0 USA 🇺🇸 – 25 Apr 1920 – OG – Antwerp 🇧🇪
|Previous IHLC Meeting (CAN vs. USA)
🇨🇦 CAN 3-1 USA 🇺🇸 – 25 Aug 2004 – EX – Ottawa 🇨🇦
|Last IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 2-2 SVK 🇸🇰 – 28 Aug 2004 – EX – Ottawa 🇨🇦
|Next IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 5-1 SVK 🇸🇰 – 01 Sep 2004 – WCH – Montréal 🇨🇦