Crosby writes storybook ending

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VANCOUVER - There is a new hockey game, a new hockey moment, a new national memory to cherish forever.

A brand new hockey footprint for a generation of Canadians was born Sunday when Team Canada ended our greatest Winter Olympics with a record-setting 14th gold medal, earning a frantic, frenetic, emotionally charged 3-2 overtime win over an impressive, resilient Team USA.

There was one game with everything to lose and everything to win for Team Canada and everyone watching. And in the best of Canadian hockey traditions it could have gone either way, but just as Paul Henderson did 38 years ago in Moscow, Sidney Crosby made history all his own here in Vancouver.

Just as Henderson did, Crosby found a way.

A new trivia question for the future: It is no longer “Where were you in ‘72?” The new Henderson is Crosby and the shot he didn’t see go in, like so many famous goals before him, came seven minutes and 40 seconds into overtime of an unforgettable gold medal game.

For those too young to remember Henderson, this is the moment of all Canadian sporting moments, more electric than the Ben Johnson win before the disqualification, more exciting than the Donovan Bailey victories in Atlanta, more amazing for the country than the Joe Carter home run or the Mike Timlin toss to Carter at first base in 1992.

This is the new team. This is the new standard. The greatest of all gold medals in the sport we so cherish at our very own Olympic Games.

“Words can’t even describe this,” said Eric Staal, who like so many of the young Canadians has won the Stanley Cup but had never felt anything like this before. “ For us to come here in this environment, with this crowd and deliver, it’s pretty awesome. I’m proud to be a Canadian.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. A chance to win an Olympic gold in your home country. People are going to remember this for a long, long time. And people are going to remember Sid’s goal for a long, long time. It was huge for him, huge for us.”

Huge for Canadian sport.

After the medals were presented, after the first bout of crazed celebrations on the ice, the Canadians stood together, arm in arm, with gold medals around their necks, swaying back and forth, screaming and singing.

“I don’t care that I have the worst voice in the world,” said Jonathan Toews, voted onto the tournament all-star team. “I was belting it out as loud as I can.”

And everyone at GM Place, maybe everyone across the nation, was belting it out along with them.

Crosby just shot the puck and heard the noise. His explanation was reminiscent of Carter’s World Series home run explanation. He shot and didn’t know he had scored until he heard the noise.

And then everything exploded in celebration for the Canadians. A building already loud grew to deafening heights. And a country spilled onto the streets. The absolute perfect ending for an Olympics that was so much about celebration on the streets.

“I can’t explain what this feels like,” said Mike Richards, who played such an impressive role for Team Canada. “I can’t put it into words. I’ve never played in a game like this, never played in a building like this, never felt anything like this before.”

Like Crosby, he didn’t see the winning goal.

“I just heard the noise,” Richards said. “Our bench was shaking. People were jumping onto the ice. I just followed them.”

That’s what the best teams do

“This is unbelievable,” shouted Ryan Getzlaf. “It’s nothing like I’ve ever felt before. I’ve won two world juniors. I’ve won the Stanley Cup.”

And then he paused for a second to find the right words.

“This is for Canada,” he said. “This is amazing.”

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca


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