Mustering up a victory
Canada beats U.S., despite those jerseys
By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun
MONTREAL -- Wow. What a team, those 1920 Winnipeg Falcons.
You really had to like the looks of them here in the first period last night if not so much those mustard-coloured uniforms.
In an attempt to honour the Falcons, who won the first Olympic gold medal in hockey for Canada in 1920, and more so to create another jersey to sell, Team Canada showed up dressed like some sort of beer league team to open play in the World Cup of Hockey here last night.
But from the opening face-off they looked dominant despite being an eyesore in what they wore.
For one period, this team was playing on another planet like Canadian teams did internationally way back when Winnipeg sent that team to Antwerp, Belgium.
So impressive was this young team for openers, an American writer stood up in the press box, threw his arms up and said "We surrender."
Team Canada jumped on the defending champion Americans with 19 shots in the first frame and looked like they might paste the Americans 12-1 like the Falcons beat Sweden in the gold-medal game at the 1920 Olympics.
But Canada could only get a 2-0 jump and had to struggle as the U.S. battled back in a fiesty affair, in which Canada lost Ed Jovanovski for the tournament, the USA lost Mike Modano for an undetermined period and Mario Lemieux was enticed into a bout.
It was opening night of the North American pool and more than anything, what it did was remind us how much we love these summit series.
NHL pros have played in two Olympics since the last World Cup on hockey ended here with the USA beating Canada 5-2 in this same arena. But one game in and any question about whether these Canada Cup tournaments had lost their flavor over eight years was answered with a scene to savour and an opening period to treasure in what turned out to be a 2-1 win for Canada.
Despite those God awful duds the Canadian team was forced to wear for the sake of marketing, the scene was so spectacular at the start it fuelled Team Canada to come out of the gate great.
"No. 1, the crowd pumped everybody up," said Canadian coach Pat Quinn of the glorious beginning by his bunch.
"For 20 minutes we were a very, very good team."
U.S. coach Ron Wilson said the scene was definitely a factor in what happened here.
A GREAT CROWD
"The crowd was great. The national anthems were great, especially O Canada," said Wilson, saying Team Canada played with the emotion the 21,273 provided.
"Give Canada credit," said Wilson. "They were hungrier than we were and a lot more intense. They totally took control of that first period and dominated. We were fortunate Robert Esche was on top of things out there. We just didn't have any equalibrium at all in the first period.
"Canada couldn't play any better," he said. "We couldn't play any worse. It took a while for us to wake up and start competing. It looked ugly for a while but it ended up giving us something to build on."
After giving up goals to Martin St. Louis and Joe Sakic on Canadian power plays in the first period, Bill Guerin got one back for the U.S. as the game turned the other way in the second period and ended up 32-24 in shots on goal and as close as the score would indicate.
But for a while there ...
"They're a good team. It took a while to get going. There are some pretty good players on that team," Esche said when it was over.
Lemieux didn't play back-to-back games at the Salt Lake Olympics but Quinn didn't overload him with ice time in this one.
"He was out at key times in the game, especially late," said Quinn indicating if Mario wants to go again in tonight's game here against Slovakia, he'll give him the green light.
"If he wants the game, I'll play him."
With all four teams in each pool making it to the quarter-finals, the opener was hardly a crucial. But it did go a long way to keeping Canada in Canada.
Should the USA and Canada end up matched in the quarter-finals, the team finishing higher in the standings would be the host.
While there is still a mathematical chance they could end up in St. Paul, Minnesota, odds are now that the Canadians will now play on Canadian ice all the way.
And with this sort of scene to savour, of that you have to be in favour.