Canada again on top of hockey world

By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency


Canada's Sidney Crosby, left, and Chris Pronger celebrate with their gold medals after beating the Americans 3-2 in overtime Sunday at the Vancouver Olympics. (DANIEL MALLARD/QMI AGENCY)


Men restore Canada's hockey pride

VANCOUVER — He had been quiet through most of this remarkable Olympic tournament — competent, but unspectacular.

This was supposed to be Sidney Crosby’s Olympics and, in the end, the very end, it was.

Ending an afternoon of hockey that will go down as one of the greatest in the game, Crosby scored at 7:40 of overtime to give Canada a 3-2 win and the gold medal, a shot from the left wing circle beating American goaltender Ryan Miller between the pads.

The goal, followed by the instant of stunned silence that always seems to shroud moments like that, triggered an avalanche of noise from the-red clad, flag-waving and overwhelmingly Canadian crowd.

“Every kid dreams of that opportunity,” Crosby said. “It could have been any other guy in that room. Obviously, being in Canada, that’s an opportunity of a lifetime, to play in the Olympics and try and win a gold medal. You dream of that moment 1,000 times growing up. For it to come true is pretty amazing.

“We didn’t want to have any regrets and that’s the way I wanted to go out.”

It was an incredible end to a game that saw Canada lead 2-0 on goals by Jonathan Toews — a revelation for Canada — and Corey Perry. The relentless Americans, the youngest team in the tournament, battled back to send it into overtime with just 24.4 seconds left in the third period, Zach Parise banging in a rebound behind Canadian goaltender Roberto Luongo.

In the overtime, Canada dominated in the four-on-four play and it ended when Team Canada veteran Jarome Iginla passed the puck from the corner to Miller’s right to Crosby.

“I just tried to throw it at the net, I wasn’t really aiming for anything,” Crosby said. “I didn’t see it go in. I just heard everybody screaming.”

It was a tough moment for Miller.

“The puck got caught up in the ref’s feet and it kind of spun our guys around for a second. Sidney had his head down, but he got it up just I was about to make a decision. I had been aggressive all tournament and I wasn’t about to change my game now that we were in overtime,” Miller said. “You just feel like s--t.”

For a game as hyped as this one — perhaps the most anticipated game in Canadian hockey history given it was the Olympics and taking place on Canadian soil — the players did a remarkable job fulfilling the expectation.

That is saying something.

Forget the price of condos or housing here. The costliest real estate was every inch of the ice at GM Place, players on both sides unyielding in giving any of it up without making the other guy pay.

The intensity in each puck battle, among some of the most skilled players, who are not particularly known for having heavy sticks or the will to scratch and claw, was off the charts, sticks chopping, elbows flying.

“It was a game for the ages,” said Toews, “just because it was so close. It was such a battle. I’m sure it will be memorable for a lot of people, but especially the guys in the locker room who found a way to win.”

Crosby got them over the hump.

“Guys like that find a way,” said Canadian defenceman Chris Pronger. “We’ve seen for all his career as he’s progressed. He’s going to continue to push hard and keep grinding away, looking for chances to score, looking for plays to make. It’s fortunate for us we were able to have him score a big goal for us at the most critical time.”

The tournament did not belong to Sidney Crosby — only its last memorable moment.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

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