Some of Hockey’s Most Incredible and Surprising Moments Have Occurred During the Winter Olympic Games.
By John Focht
Eleven days in February will be a showcase for the world’s greatest hockey players. Since NHL players were first allowed to compete in the Olympics in the 1998 Games, the world has seen some of the most incredible and surprising hockey moment’s ever. Here are five of the most incredible and surprising Olympic hockey moments since the 1998 Games.
2002 USA vs. Russia – Semi Final Game
There was quite a bit of anticipation for the 2002 Olympic hockey games. For one, the Winter Games were being hosted in the United States for the first time since 1980. Team USA was also looking to improve upon its dismal 1998 1-3-0 Olympic hockey record.
Herb Brooks, head coach of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team, coached the 2002 Team to a 2-0-1 preliminary rounds record, which included a 2-2 with Russia. Team USA and Team Russia met for a rematch in the semi-final game.
Playing on the anniversary of the 1980 Miracle on Ice victory over the USSR, Team USA jumped to an early 3-0 lead on goals by Bill Guerin, Scott Young, and Phil Housley. Team Russia would not surrender so quickly though and pulled to within 3-2 with two quick goals at the start of the third period. Team USA held on to defeat Russia, but fell short to Team Canada in the Gold Medal game.
2010 Canada vs. USA – Gold Medal Game
Despite the outcome, the USA-Canada Gold Medal game at the Vancouver Games was one of the most thrilling hockey games ever played. The two teams battled for 60 minutes. Team Canada carried a 2-1 lead into the game’s final minute until Zach Parise scored to tie the game for Team USA with 24.4 seconds remaining.
Carrying a nation on his back, Sidney Crosby scored the game winner 7:40 into overtime to give Team Canada their second hockey Gold Medal in the past three Winter Olympics. For Team USA, it was their second Gold Medal defeat to Team Canada in the past three Winter Games.
1998 Czech Republic vs. Canada
The 1998 Winter Games were the first Olympic Games to allow NHL players to compete. Similar to the Team USA basketball Dream Team from the 1992 Summer Games, Team Canada wanted to put their dream team hockey team together to bring home the Olympic Gold in Ice Hockey.
Loaded with NHL stars such as Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Patrick Roy, Team Canada took no prisoners in their 3-0-0 Preliminary Round record, outscoring their opponents 12-3.
In the semifinal game against the Czech Republic, Team Canada met their match in goaltender Dominic Hasek. With the score tied 1-1, the game would be decided by a shootout. Team Canada captain Eric Lindros skated in on Hasek with a chance to tie the score in the shootout, but Lindros hit the post. The Czech Republic won in the shootout and went on to defeat Russia for the Gold. The dream team that Team Canada had assembled went home without any medals in 1998.
2006 Canada and USA Team finish a combined 4-5-1
Following their 2002 runs to the Gold Medal game, both Team USA and Team Canada fell flat on their faces in the 2006 Turin games. Team Canada finished the Preliminary Round games at 3-2-0, while Team USA limped to 1-3-1. Both squads were bumped in the quarterfinal round.
The 2006 Olympics marked a changing of the guard for both countries as the NHL stars of the 1990’s who played integral parts on both squads in the ’02 games were now gone. The ’06 Games marked an in-between phase for both Team Canada and Team USA. Despite the poor showing, the squads rebounded to provide us one of the all-time great games in 2010.
1998 Women’s Hockey
This article would be remiss if it do not mention the significance of the ’98 Olympics with introduction of Women’s Ice Hockey. Looked upon at the time with many quizzical faces, women’s ice hockey has since become a staple event in the Winter Games since its debut in Nagano in the 1998 Games. Many great memories have been forged, and many great athletes have emerged, since 1998.