Sunshine Supermen!

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 2:21 PM ET


 TAMPA, Fla. -- Before he kissed it, Dave Andreychuk kind of bounced with it. It was beautiful.

 After playing a league-leading 1,759 games without ever winning the Stanley Cup, Andreychuk looked like an old pro with it as he savoured the moment he'd dreamed of all his life.

 "This is so awesome. You can dream about it, but you never know how great it is going to feel until it really happens," said the captain of the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

 "I've dreamed about this day for a long time. It's hard to put it into words when it finally happens. I think of all those years when I didn't make the playoffs or lost in the first round. I think of all my teammates over the years. I'm so proud of these guys. I can't put it into words."

 As was the case with Ray Bourque three years ago, this was a case of 20 guys playing to put one guy's name on it.

 DOIN' IT FOR DAVE

 "Everybody was just hoping so much. We really wanted to do it for him. It almost brought tears to my eyes. This is for Dave," said Darryl Sydor, who won a Cup before with the Dallas Stars.

 Andreychuk took Stanley on a brief tour of the ice, then handed it to another gray beard, Tim Taylor. He passed it to Vinnie Lecavalier, who passed it to Martin St. Louis who gave it to Brad Richards ...

 It was a lot of players later that Ruslan Fedotenko finally held the Cup over his head.

 It was Fedotenko, the fourth-year NHLer from Kiev, who ended up one of only 13 players to put his name on a Game 7 of a Stanley Cup final.

 How do you quietly score 12 playoff goals in the Stanley Cup playoffs? Fedotenko did it. Even in the end he wasn't picked as one of the prime players when it came to the Cup-carrying.

 His goals, No. 11 and 12, were the two Tampa goals of the seventh game of the 13th seven-game Stanley Cup series in history. It was the 11th won by the home team.

 The Flames didn't have a chance in the first 48 minutes.

 Seven shots. No scoring chances. None.

 The Lightning had three legitimate scoring chances before their first shot - one by Lecavalier, who fanned from point-blank range on the second shift, a shot fired wide by Cory Stillman and a backhand from Fredrik Modin, which also went wide.

 But a brutal penalty call for tripping on Oleg Saprykin resulted in Fedotenko scoring his first on the power play, converting a rebound on a drive by Conn Smythe Trophy winner Richards at 13:55 of the first period.

 HE HIT THE POST

 Dan Boyle almost doused the Flames a few seconds later when he hit the post.

 The shots were 6-3 Tampa at the end of the first period. There were only two shots in the first 10 minutes of the second, both by Calgary.

 Then Fedotenko set up in the slot and fired one off the left arm of Miikka Kiprusoff at 14:38 of the second period.

 A penalty against Fort McMurray native Nolan Pratt gave the Flames a final flicker at 9:21 of the third. Craig Conroy blasted one from the point which found twine behind Nikolai Khabibulin and made what might have been the most boring Game 7 in Stanley Cup history into one which was instantly compelling.

 Suddenly Khabibulin, who had pretty much been a spectator until that point, was required to make save after save - two of them on great chances by Jordan Leopold.

 Lecavalier finally made something happen at the other end as he went in on a breakaway only to be foiled by Kiprusoff.

 When Sherwood Park product Andrew Ference took a charging penalty for hitting St. Louis face-first into the boards with 18:59 to go, the Lightning were able to finally put a lid on it, despite Andreychuk ending his wait for the Cup in the penalty box.

 The last 11 minutes managed to make it a memorable game. The series was kind of like that. It was always interesting and occasionally fascinating.

 IGINLA DISAPPEARS

 For the second game in a row the Lightning made Jarome Iginla disappear. The St. Albert superstar, who was a lock to win the Conn Smythe if Calgary had won the series, was totally taken away by the work of Sydor and Pavel Kubina.

 But the Flames didn't lose the Stanley Cup here; they lost it back in Calgary when they couldn't win Game 6. They lost it by being 5-7 at home in the playoffs.

 In the end, the astounding run was undone because the Flames ran out of fuel.

 "In the end we ran out of gas," said coach Darryl Sutter. "In the end they had more legs than we did."

 From now until whenever they play hockey again in the NHL, which may be 18 months or more from now, as we go into The War of 2004 for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the hockey world is now allowed to debate whether we'll be frequent fliers to Tampa for Stanley Cup finals in the future.

 With the young talents of Richards, St. Louis, Lecavalier and, yes, Fedotenko, some amazing things can happen in the future.

 In the meantime Stanley is going to get a tan. The Stanley Cup is going to spend the year here. And it's now 12 years, going on 13, since it's come home to Canada.

 Who would have dreamed back in the dynasty days of Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton, we'd ever see that?


Videos

Photos