Monday, March 1, 2010

Sidney Crosby Fights off USA comeback, Canada wins Gold in a game for the ages

In what was truly a game for the ages between the North American Powers and Neighbors. The U.S.A. and Canada faced off for Olympic Gold for the 2nd time in less then decade. However, like in 2002 in Salt Lake City, the result was the same as the Gold Medal that Canadian Hockey Fans wanted the most of all the Medals that Canada could have won in the Olympics.

This was the big one and the most important one of these games. The game started out with a very physically presence with both teams bringing out the hits like in the Group Stage game, the Canadians went up 2-0 midway through the 2nd period.

The U.S.A. Came back with Zach Parise who had a fantastic tournament and definitely had a great case for Tournament MVP, especially if the U.S.A. had won the game. In the 3rd period, both teams were playing their hearts and proving that both nations wanted this gold so badly.

For the U.S.A., it would have been revenge for Canada winning gold on American Ice in 2002 by winning gold on their ice. For Canada, it would have been their 2nd Gold Medal in less in a decade and getting revenge for the early matchup.

In the end, Pittsburgh Penguins superstar finished off on what was a surprisingly quiet tournament by scoring the game winner nearly 8 minutes into the extra period. After that, the Canadian fans went into a frenzy across the country as it was the most watched sporting event in Canada's history.

It also put an extra spark into the Closing Ceremonies later that night and fans were celebrating across the country long into the night to celebrate the end of a very successful Olympics in all parts from winning the most golds to creating one of the best atmosphere's of any Olympics, winter or summer in recent years and will give upcoming host cities, mostly London in Summer 2012 and Sochi in Winter 2014 in the near future.

For the U.S.A., finishing with the Silver Medal was painful for right now, they will realize that they have successfully turned the page in U.S.A. Hockey. Out are players like Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick who gave the U.S.A. numerous great moments, in are players like Ryan Miller and Zach Parise who look to create many more moments and to help out and inspire the youth and junior players to help compete to make the team even better in the future.

This is Canada's biggest national success in a nation where Hockey is a religion and that is saying something when your team wins on home ice and the player that a lot of people are hyping as the next Wayne Gretzky who's already won an Olympic Gold, and a Stanley Cup the last few months. He's legacy is only going to grow. I should mention that he was the youngest captain in NHL History to win the Stanley Cup as well.

And to bring home the nations first Olympic Hockey Gold Medal since the Miracle on Ice Team. Also with the U.S.A. claiming both the U18 & WJC Championships right now, the future of USA Hockey is certainly is just amazing right now.

From Andrew Pondieks of the International Ice Hockey Federation Website:

Sidney Crosby scored at 7:40 in OT off a lovely pass from Jarome Iginla to give Canada gold on home ice. Crosby's quick low shot beat Ryan Miller to give Canada a 3-2 win.

Likely the single-most anticipated game since the game was brought indoors in 1875, this remarkable contest lived up to and exceeded its buildup.

"Every kid dreams of this opportunity (to score the game winning goal in the Olympics)," said Crosby, "and any guy in the room could have done it. Doing it in Canada is the opportunity of a lifetime. You dream of that moment a thousand times growing up."

Crosby had been quiet all game long-the past 3 games in fact,-but as usual he elevated his game to extraordinary heights at the exact moment required. In retrospect, who else could have scored the game winning goal? Jonathan Toews and Corry Perry scored for Canada and Ryan Kesler and Zach Parise for the United States in regulation before teams came back out for the 20 minute sudden death 4-on-4 hockey.

The game featured two teams with almost identical styles of play, but on this day was a twist. Both teams like to get the puck deep into enemy territory, chase it down, and cycle the puck to generate scoring chances.

The twist was that American coach Ron Wilson clearly told his players before the game to shoot wherever the chance to presented itself. In other words, make Canadian goalie Roberto Luongo handle the puck as much as possible. As for the two NHL refs-Bill Mcceary and Dan O'Halloran-they let the North Americans play a physical game, knowing that these quality players, appearing in the game of their lives, would not resort to cheap shots. "Let'em play" and with gold on the line, rightly so.

Canada opened the scoring at 12:50 on a harmless-looking play. The Americans won a faceoff deep in the own end and had a puck behind the net when Mike Richards checked Eric Johnson off the puck. Richards came out in front with a shot which Ryan Miller saved, but the goalie didn't control the rebound. Jonathan Toews snapped it home early for the critical 1-0 lead. It was exactly the kind of play for Richards was named to the team by executive director Steve Yzerman.

The period was marked by good scoring chances at both ends but also by many whistles and sometimes nervous play, and it ended with Canada with a slim lead.

Canada got an early power play in the 2nd period off a sloppy high sticking penalty by Ryan Malone at the Canadian blueline but although there was good puck possession. there was no score on the power play. Moments later, Eric Staal was called for interference, and the Canadians had their first penatly-killer situation.

They passed with flying colors-and then got that vital second goal. Getzlaf came down the left side and tried to throw the puck in front, but the puck caromed off Ryan Whitney back to Corey Perry who had a whole open side as Miller was playing for an initial pass. He made no mistake, and at 7:13 it was a 2-0 game.

The Americans got another power play moments later and came close with an open play to the net, but Patrice Bergeron and Rick Nash led the penalty killers. After that, it was end-to-end action, heart throbbing for fans of both teams.

And then it happened: At 12:44 the Americans got one back after a simple shot along the boards by Patrick Kane was redirected past Luongo who got a piece of the shot, but not all of it. On the next shift, Zach Parise took a stretch pass down the left side and had another great chance. The Canadians invincibility so far in the game was now in doubt, as was the game.

As in the first, there were great scoring chances, huge amounts of action around the crease of the two goalies, and no more goals. Canada was now 20 minutes away from gold with a 2-1 lead, but it was a tenuous lead. The Americans speed to the outside was obvious, but Canada's strength up the middle was also very much in evidence. The best chance in the later part of the period came when Staal took a long pass from Dan Boyle and shot over the net on a clear breakaway.

One shot, one bounce would ensure victory for Canada or start an American comeback. That shot nearly came early in the 3rd period when a Chris Pronger point shot rattled off the post while Miller was screened. But still, the score remained the same at 2-1.

Canada sat on the lead for the rest of the period, and it almost worked. But with Miller on the bench, Parise knocked in a loose puck in front of Luongo's crease to force OT.

"With 24 seconds left, we were obviously celebrating," Getzlaf admitted, "but our guys did a great job of believing and staying poised."

Said Staal: "We've got so many guys that have been through the Stanley Cups, Game Sevens situations like that. We knew we just had to get it back. There's nothing you can do. It's the past. Obviously it was tough to give up that goal. At the end of the 3rd, we just said: "It's going to feel even better when we win it in overtime." "I"m sure it did for every Canadian out there."

Captain Scott Niedermayer agreed: "Lots of guys stepped up, and everybody kept their composure. We knew what we had to: continue to go out there and play our game, and just believe that it was going to happen."

Canada dominated the OT, and when Crosby and Iginla came out they worked the puck along the left-wing boards. Crosby got the puck in the corner to Iginla and went to the net, shouting for the puck. "There was a certain urgency in his voice," Iginla said later, "so I just tried to get it him before it was too late." Crosby's quick one timer beat Miller cleanly, and an entire nation ran into the streets to celebrate the greatest goal since Paul Henderson defining score in 1972.

"A few years down the road we will be proud of it but not right now." said Dustin Brown. "We had good momentum and had one breakdown and they capitalized."

1 comment:

  1. There is so much to say about the gold medal men’s ice hockey game at the 2010 Winter Olympics. First, as an American, I am disappointed with the outcome. However, I was impressed that the USA was able to force overtime. The game-tying goal was exciting to see, and I honestly didn’t expect the USA to score it. Luongo played very well in goal for Canada, but I am shocked Miller got the Olympic MVP Award. Giving the award to a player who lost the gold medal game is unusual, but he did keep the USA in the game and had a stellar tournament overall.

    Congratulations to Canada and I am at least glad the men did not celebrate in the same fashion that the Canadian women did when they won the gold medal. I am also happy that this game did not go to a shootout. That would have been an awful way to decide this game and the gold medal winner.