Sunday’s Olympic Gold Medal hockey game between Canada and the United States was the most watched program in the history of Canadian television.
Coming into the Winter Olympic games, Canada had never won a gold medal on home soil, but going into the hockey match they had won 13 during the Vancouver Games, tying an olympic record. Yet, if they had lost Sunday, these Olympics would have been considered a disappointment among the people of our northern neighbors.
It might not have been as big of a game for the U.S., but they sure played like it was.
The United States previously defeated Canada earlier in the tournament 5-3, giving them confidence that they can play with the world-class players on the Canadian roster.
The atmosphere was surreal. At the onset, the building was deafening, with chants of “Canada” and “Beat the U.S.” However, the United States did not shrink in the moment.
Tournament MVP Ryan Miller, the U.S. goaltender, played excellent as he had all tournament long. He made some key stops early to keep the Americans in it while they got their legs under them.
Midway through the first period, Jonathan Toews put Canada in front 1-0 on a rebound chance to Miller’s right. A turnover by the U.S. provided the opportunity, which the skilled Canadians cashed in.
Once again, an American turnover in its own end led to another goal for Canada. America failed to clear the zone, and the Anaheim Ducks’ Corey Perry put it past Miller’s top shelf, giving Canada the 2-0 advantage.
Most people probably thought that the game was over after the second goal. But the Americans showed grit and determination.
As the game wound down, the Americans trailed 2-1, forcing the U.S. to pull its goalie in place of another skater with just over a minute left. The Americans applied constant pressure and following a turnaround shot from the circle, Zach Parise swept the rebound under the leg of Canadian goaltender Roberto Luongo, to tie the game with 24.4 seconds left. The Match went into overtime in the gold medal game.
With new rules in place, both teams skated four-aside during overtime. It open the ice and provide better scoring chances for both teams. This is where Canada deserves a ton of credit. Most countries might pack it in, knowing they were 24 seconds from winning the gold, but Canada did not do that.
The action went back and forth, from end to end. This is the type of hockey that even someone with no knowledge of the game could enjoy.
It eventually ended with an amazing pass and even better shot from Jerome Iginla to Sidney Crosby. Crosby came off the boards and rolled toward the net, where Iginla placed the puck right on his tape. Crosby’s wrist shot went straight through Miller’s legs for the game winner.
The building went berserk, as the crowd exploded. The Canadians had won the gold medal. However, the U.S. can hold their heads high. They were not supposed to have reached this point, never mind playing tit for tat with the greatest team on Earth.
I tip my cap to the Canadians and I am happy for them, but on this day I can say I am truly proud to be an American.