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A Place in History - The Best Game in the World - Canada's 14th Olympic Gold Medal
James Creighton, born in Halifax in 1850. learned the game of hockey as a youngster,and played often. By 1873, he moved to Montreal and introduced the game there. On March 3rd, 1875, Creighton, and many friends played the first game of organized hockey inside a rink. It featured 'Halifax Rules' (written by Creighton) and successfully gained popularity. This version of 'hockey' was introduced in Kingston, Ontario in 1886, Toronto in 1888, and Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1890, finally extending to Victoria, British Columbia. Hockey was now a truly Canadian game, spanning the country coast to coast.
Several variations of the game were played before finally settling on the one we play now, and was strictly amateur until 1904, when the first professional league was created - the International Pro Hockey League. That folded in 1907, but three years later, the National Hockey Association (NHA) emerged, followed by the Pacific Coast League (PCL). In 1914, a championship series was played between the two, with the winner getting the now coveted cup of Lord Stanley.
After World War I, a whole new organization, the National Hockey League (NHL) was formed. At its inception, the NHL boasted five franchises- the Montreal Canadiens, the Montreal Wanderers, the Ottawa Senators, the Quebec Bulldogs, and the Toronto Arenas. The NHL's first game was held Dec. 19, 1917.
A few Olympic hockey facts
In 1920, the first World Hockey Championship was played in early April, as part of the Olympic Summer games. In 1924, the first Olympic Winter games were held in Chamonix, France.
Women's ice hockey debuted in 1998, and the NHL decided to take a break from their schedule, allowing the players to join their national teams.
From the beginning, Canada was the team to beat. In 1932, Canada and the U.S. played to a draw - the match was called after 3 scoreless overtime periods. In 1936 Canada lost to Great Britain - 10 of their 12 players were Canadians!
Canada retook the gold in 1948, but lost it again in 1956 when the Soviets entered their first Winter Olympic games, going on to win more medals than any other country. In 1960 the United States won their first Olympic Gold medal in Men's Hockey, only to lose it to the Soviet Union in 1964, and win it back again in 1980.
The Soviet Union, now playing under the banner of the Commonwealth of Independant States, won the gold in 1992. In an unprecidented gold medal game, Sweden defeated Canada to become Olympic Champions for the first time.
1998 saw the United States win over Canada's Women's Team, and the Czech Republic beats Canada in a shootout, and shuts out Russia 1-0 to win the gold. In 2002 Canada sweeps both men's and women's hockey , with the United States winning silver, and in 2006 Sweden again won the gold medal after defeating Finland.
39 Ryan Miller
29 Jonathan Quick
30 Tim Thomas
4 Tim Gleason
6 Erik Johnson
3 Jack Johnson
44 Brooks Orpik
28 Brian Rafalski
20 Ryan Suter
19 Ryan Whitney
42 David Backes
32 Dustin Brown
24 Ryan Callahan
23 Chris Drury
88 Patrick Kane
17 Ryan Kesler
81 Phil Kessel
15 Jamie Langenbrunner
12 Ryan Malone
9 Zach Parise
16 Joe Pavelski
54 Bobby Ryan
26 Paul Stastny
Defensemen Paul Martin and Mike Komisarek were initially selected, but due to injuries were replaced by Ryan Whitney and Tim Gleason
2010 Winter Olympics - the Match up
1 Roberto Luongo
29 Marc-André Fleury
30 Martin Brodeur
2 Duncan Keith
6 Shea Weber
7 Brent Seabrook
8 Drew Doughty
20 Chris Pronger
22 Dan Boyle
27 Scott Niedermayer
10 Brenden Morrow
11 Patrick Marleau
12 Jarome Iginla
15 Dany Heatley
16 Jonathan Toews
18 Michael Richards
19 Joe Thornton
21 Eric Staal
24 Corey Perry
37 Patrice Bergeron
51 Ryan Getzlaf
61 Rick Nash L/G
87 Sidney Crosby
A placard in the Kandahar troops viewing tent for the gold medal hockey game said it all. It read, Brothers in Arms - not in hockey, and showed the world our respect, camaraderie and good natured rivalry with our southern allay.
The first game between these two Titans promised to be a good one, and they didn't disappoint. What was disappointing from a Canadian aspect was our team's loss. Canada now had to win 3 straight games to get back into gold medal contention. The first was against Germany, which they won 8 - 2, followed by a 7 - 3 win over Russia, and a 3 - 2 win over Slovakia.
The team that was least likely (as discussed by some news personel,) to rank well, proved to be the overall best. The US team won every single match up to make it to the gold medal game. The U.S. took out Switzerland 3 - 1, Norway 6 - 1, Canada (in their first match up) 5 - 3, their second meeting with Switzerland 2 - 0, and Finland 6 - 1.
It was evident that these boys came to win!
The match up of the century
But then again, so did our boys...
I would hazard a guess that 2 out of every 3 households in the U.S. and Canada were tuned into the Olympic coverage of the USA/Canada gold medal game. Outside our house, the traffic was negligible at best. It was quieter on the streets than Christmas Day!
If there were any chores that needed doing today, they would have to wait until after the game! Snacks, drinks, phone calls or bathroom breaks were taken care of in between periods...until then, we were glued to the television.
It was a nail biter from the drop of the puck - turn around plays, end to end action, and missed chances brought us to the edge of our seats.Then it happened! At 12:50 in the 1st period, Johnathon Toews scored to make it 1 - 0 for Canada!
The excitement dripped like sweat from our brows as we watched. Each missed shot or ricochet off the goal post wrung a gasp from our throats or a sigh of relief. Just when we thought we couldn't take any more, Corry Perry scored goal number two, making it 2 - 0 for Canada at 7:13 in the 2nd.
We were ecstatic and the crowd at Canada Hockey Place erupted in cheers! But it didn't stop there...The U.S. team fought back, and Ryan Kesler scored a goal at 12:44 of the 2nd, making it a 1 - 2 hockey game.
The 3rd period was end to end action, missed shots, and amazing saves from both goalies. At 18:33 the U.S. coach decided to pull their goalie, sending 6 men on the attack. All of Canada watched in dismay as their team fell back from pressing for goals to trying to keep their lead - a move which was destined to fail.
With 24 seconds left in the 3rd period, Zack Parise of the U.S. Team scored, making it a 2 - 2 tie - now we were facing sudden death overtime!
When the two teams hit the ice for the sudden death OT, we couldn't take the suspense! Not being able to sit and watch, we paced back and forth across the living room, eyes glued to the TV. After the first 6 minutes had passed, we were starting to hold our breath, because we knew from the way these boys were playing, that a goal had to be scored soon.
We weren't disappointed! Sidney Crosby of Team Canada made history by scoring the tie breaker, at 7:40 in OT, winning Canada's 14th gold medal of the 2010 Winter Games. The match up of the century not only gives Canada the gold, it catapults Canada to the forefront of medal winners, breaking the Soviet Union's gold medal record, set in 1956.
For the Americans, a disappointing finish. It is hard to settle for silver, when you crave gold, but still not that bad when you consider the alternative, and an historic and amazing victory for Canada.
Congratulations to every member of Canada's Men's Hockey Team, everyone on Team Canada, and every athlete attending Vancouver's 2010 Winter Olympics. Thank you for making it the most memorable winter games in Canada's history.