Saturday, February 27, 2010
The 1994 Winter Olympic hockey tournament, held in Lillehammer, Norway will always be remembered for one defining moment, Peter Forsberg's memorable gold medal winning shoot out goal.
Forsberg had debuted with the Modo Hockey junior team in his hometown of Örnsköldsvik in 1989-90 and made one appearance with the senior club later that same season. The following year he split time between the junior club and the senior club, getting into 23 games and scoring his first goal in the Elitserien. He was also drafted 6th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers during the NHL Entry Draft that year, although he would remain in Sweden for an additional three seasons, in part to play in the 1994 Olympics, at a time when he felt it would be his only Olympic opportunity prior to the NHL suspending it's season to allow it's players to participate in the games, something that wouldn't begin until 1998.
Forsberg moved up to the senior club full time the following year, scoring 28 points in 39 games. As his experience and confidence grew, so did his point totals, and in 1992-93, Forsberg averaged more than a point per game for the first time, with 47 points in 39 games and was named as both the the MVP of the Elitserien as well as the Swedish hockey Player of the Year.
He would win both awards again the next season after 44 points in 39 games.
Internationally, Forsberg first appeared for Sweden in the 1991 European Junior Championships, followed by both the World Junior Championship and World Championship in both 1992 and 1993.
Already considered by that point to be the best player in the World not in the NHL, Forsberg would make himself known to hockey fans all across North America with the events of this day in the 1994 Olympic Gold Medal Final.
Sweden was placed in Group B for the Preliminary Round with Canada, France, Italy, Slovakia and the United States and tied in their first game 4-4 with Slovakia, making their first ever Olympic appearance. They easily handled Italy 4-1 and France 7-1 before defeating the United States 6-4 before losing to Canada 3-2 to finish their group in third place behind Slovakia and Canada.
As a result of their third place finish, they drew Germany (second place in Group A) in the first round of the Medal Round playoffs and easily eliminated them 3-0. Next up was the surprisingly down Russians, who were feeling the effects of the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the resulting turmoil in their hockey program. Having lost to the Finns 5-0 and the Germans 4-2 in Group A, Sweden ended their tournament 4-3 to advance to the Gold Medal Final against Canada, who knocked out the Czech Republic 3-2 and Finland 5-3 for their shot at gold.
The scoring was opened by Sweden at 6:10 of the first period on the power play on a goal by Kenny Jonsson from Hakan Loob and Peter Forsberg. There was no additional scoring until Canada got on the board with a goal by Paul Kariya from Chris Kontos and Greg Johnson at 9:08 of the third.
Canada went up by one when defesman Derek Mayer scored an unassisted goal at 11:43. Canada was able to keep their lead until Brad Werenka was called for a penalty at 17:50 and Sweden made them pay the price when Magnus Svensson scored on a shot from the point with assists from Forsberg and Jonsson at 18:11 on the resulting power play.
The game would finish deadlocked at 2-2 and the following ten minute overtime failed to settle the score, moving the game to a deciding shootout.
Petr Nedved opened the shootout with a goal for Canada, while Loob missed for Sweden. Kariya then converted for Canada and Svensson matched that with a goal of his own to keep Sweden within one.
Dwayne Norris was stopped by Swedish goaltender Tommy Salo and Mats Nasulnd was kept off the scoreboard by Canadian Corey Hirsch. Unlike today's three round shootouts, this one was scheduled to go five rounds.
Greg Parks missed for Canada and Forsberg evened the shootout at 2-2 for Sweden. After Johnson missed for Canada, Roger Hansson failed to win it for Sweden and the shootout moved into sudden death.
With players now allowed to shoot again, Svensson missed for Sweden before Nedved had Salo beaten but put the puck wide during his chance to win gold.
The 13th shooter would see the 20-year-old Forsberg take his second attempt with the weight of the world on his shoulders, and using a move that would be immortalized on a Swedish postage stamp, faked to his forehand (having gone to the right on his first shootout goal) before nearly skating past the net on his left, drawing Hirsch to the side of the crease, as Forsberg fully extended his right arm and gently tucked the puck into the center of the net on his backhand around the outstretched Hirsch.
It was a shot Forsberg had recalled seeing when he was 15 while watching Kent Nilsson on a breakaway during the 1989 World Championships against American John Vanbiesbrouck.
"I liked it right away," Forsberg recalled. "The goalie ended up in the stands."
When Salo laid himself out in the crease and blocked Kariya's final attempt, Sweden had captured the gold medal.
With the gold medal victory, Loob, Naslund and Tomas Jonsson became the first players to win the World Championship, the Stanley Cup and the Gold Medal, an accomplishment that would become known as the Triple Gold Club. Forsberg would eventually join the exclusive club in 1996, which currently consists of just 22 players in the history of the sport.
Today's featured jersey is a Reebok 194 Sweden Peter Forsberg Jersey. These jerseys are very similar to the Tackla branded jerseys used in 1992, including the same distinctive block numbers with the 3-D geometric "drop shadow" effect for the numbers, with the obvious addition of the overly large Reebok logos on the shoulders and additional piping that runs down the arms. These jerseys are a medium weight mesh and all the graphics dye-sublimated.
Here is the complete Gold Medal Final shootout, in two parts.
Here is Nilsson's original goal which inspired the young Forsberg in 1989.
Dasherboard: The United States blitzed Finland yesterday with four goals in the first 10 minutes, chasing Miikka Kiprusoff from the goal, who seemed to be channelling the spirit of Evgeni Nabokov, in their semifinal matchup yesterday.
The US welcomed Niklas Backstrom to the game by scoring twice on him within the first 2:38 of his arrival to put the game completely out of reach at 6-0.
Kiprusoff started the carnage with a horrible giveaway in his own zone in a failed attempt to clear the puck, which Ryan Malone promptly buried as the fans were still settling into their seats.
Zach Parise scored four minutes later 23 seconds into a power play to put the US up 2-0.
Erik Johnson added another power play goal six minutes later followed by Patrick Kane less a than a minute and a half later when Kiprusoff went down and was a sitting duck when the puck went to Kane on the left side of the crease with the entire net to shoot at, ending Kiprusoff's day.
Another goal by Kane and Paul Stastny's first of the Olympics greeted Backstrom before the game was even 13 minutes old. The remainder of the game was played on cruise control, with the American's even pulling Ryan Miller with 11:31 to play despite his having a shutout in progress to protect him from injury and give veteran Tim Thomas some playing time.
Anti Miettinen spoiled the shutout with a deflection off an American defender o make the final score 6-1.
Canada also advanced to the Gold Medal Final following their defeat of Slovakia 3-2. The Canadians came back down to Earth and left the superhero capes in the locker room that they all seemed to be wearing against Russia.
Still, they finished the first period ahead by two on deflections by Patrick Marleau and Brendan Morrow. while outshooting Slovakia 10-4. The second period was more of the same, with Ryan Getzlaf extending the lead with a power play goal as they shots on goal again favored Canada, this time 11-5.
Rather than play out the string, the scrappy Slovaks rallied and fought back into contention with a goal my Lubomir Visnovsky at 11:35 and set up a dramatic finish with a second goal by Michael Handzus with just under five minutes remaining. The Slovaks kept up the pressure and Pavol Demitra had the opportunity they were looking for with 10 seconds remaining, but the puck deflected off the crossbar, giving Canada the victory.
Canada now gets a rematch with the United States with the gold medal on the line in front of their home crowd in a game that will certainly set new records for viewership in Canada. The Canadian dominance over Germany and Russia came to and end in the third period against Slovakia, while the United States enters the game on a high, having destroyed Finland.
The pressure on Canada to deliver the gold at home could cause them to perform as they did in the Preliminary Round, while the support of the home fans in the arena on game day could give them the adrenaline boost which puts them over the top.
The undefeated Americans, behind the goaltending of Ryan Miller, are now at the peak of their confidence, and with the knowledge that Canada is mortal again after their close game with Slovakia and the fact they have already defeated Canada once, albeit with Martin Brodeur in goal and not Roberto Luongo, who they will face on Sunday, will not be intimidated by the Canadians or their fans.
It will be a game for the ages and one to plan your day around. Be sure to add some extra time to your recorder because this one should be close and could very well end up going into a 20 minute overtime. Let's just hope it's not decided in a shootout...
Friday, February 26, 2010
Founded in 1967, the Minnesota North Stars still had never won a game in the Boston Garden fourteen years later. Going in to the contest on this date in 1981, the North Stars were 0-27-7 at The Garden, where they were routinely intimidated by the Big, Bad Bruins, who featured a lineup with noted tough guys Terry O'Reilly (223 penalty minutes that season), Mike Milbury (222), Stan Jonathan (192), Keith Crowder (172), Brad McCrimmon (148) and Brad Park (111).
From then North Stars coach Glen Sonmor's book "Old Time Hockey";
We started out playing some solid hockey that year and just kept getting stronger as the year went on. There was one game toward the latter part of the season, however, that really had an impact on the psyche of this team. It was against Boston on February 26, on the road at the Garden. We had never beaten Boston in that arena, ever, in the history of our franchise. We were something like 0-27-7 over the past 14 seasons. They had absolutely owned us, it was ridiculous. The bad blood had started several years earlier when one of their tough guys, John Wensink, had skated over to our bench during a game one time and challenged every guy on the team to come out and fight him. Well, nobody budged.Anyway, I was tired of those sonsofbitches intimidating us, so I decided that the "Curse of the Bruins" was going to come to an end right then and there. By that point I knew that we were going to wind up facing them in the first round of the playoffs that year and I really wanted to make a statement. I wanted to instill a new attitude of toughness into our guys and really encourage them not to take any sh-- from those a-- holes. That is so important in hockey, not to be intimidated or disrespected by your opponents. I remember just before the game a reporter asked our enforcer, Jack Carlson about the "Wensink incident." He asked him what would happen if something like that happened again. Jack just smiled and said "I would jump over the boards in a hurry and go after the guy because I would hate to have my coach beat me to him!"As it turned out, we would wind up losing the game, 5-1, but I didn't care about the score at all. I wanted to send a message that we weren't going to be pushed around anymore. So, I told our guys before that game that we had to make a stand right there. I told them that we were never going to beat them until we stood up for ourselves. I even held up a Boston newspaper that had an article in it about how the Bruins had dominated us and that we were basically a bunch of pussies. I told them that they were questioning our manhood. I really tried to get them riled up and mad as hell. My instructions to them in the locker room just prior to the opening face-off were simple. I told them that not the second time, or the third time or even the fourth time, but on the first time that any Bruin tried to intimidate one of them, that they were to drop the gloves. I told them that we were going to war that night and that we were going to keep going to war until the game was over. Period.We had a ton of tough guys on tour team. In addition to Jack Carlson, who was probably the toughest heavyweight in all of pro hockey at the time, we had Brad Maxwell, Dave Richter, Al MacAdam and Gordie Roberts. So, I felt pretty good about matching up with the "Big-Bad Bruins." It wasn't those guys I was talking to about dropping the gloves though, it was everybody else. I wanted everybody to get into the action and really let their emotions out. I wanted them to experience just how good it felt to stand up for yourself and stop being bullied.Well, sure as sh--, just seven seconds into the game our star player, Bobby Smith, who was anything but a fighter, dropped the gloves. Steve Kasper, one of their top agitators, had cracked him right under the chin with his stick during the opening face-off and that was just what the doctor ordered. As soon as Bobby dropped 'em, everybody else did too and we were off to the races. It was beautiful. That was how it was all night too. There was one fracas after another. I was never so proud to see at one point during the game, there were five fights going on and we were winning them all! I remember seeing Al MacAdam just beat the crap out of one of their toughest guys, Stan Johnathan. It was a blood bath. I mean there were over 340 penalty minutes in the first period alone, not to mention a total of 12 ejections. By the end of the game, there were 42 penalties, including seven game misconducts, and an NHL record 406 total penalty minutes. It just went on and on, it was really something. We only had about five guys apiece on the bench when it was over because so many guys had been thrown out of the game.In the end we wound up losing the game, but I could not have cared less. I was so proud of our guys, I could barely contain myself. Then after the game I got into a shouting match on the bench with their coach, Gerry Cheevers. The next thing I knew my players were holding me back from trying to go after him. Hell, I wanted a piece of him. Sure, why not? I took a few swings at him from sort of an odd angle where I was punching up towards him as he was leaning over the glass.Anyway, down in the locker room after the game we were all pretty fired up. I was a scene straight out of a war movie, like we had all just returned from battle. I was great. The reporters couldn't wait to talk to me and get some quotes about what the hell I was up to. So, I am out talking to them and one of the reporters reads me a quote from Cheevers, who basically said that I was behind it all and that I had no character. I just smiled and said to the reporter and said, "OK, I have a message that you can take back to Gerry. Tell him to meet me between the dressing rooms the next time we play each other and we'll settle this like men. We'll see whose got character then." And then I added "Oh, and by the way, tell him to bring a basket to carry his f---ing head home in!"I tell you what, we barely made it out of the Garden alive. Their fans came down and started rocking our bus, trying to bust the door down to have at us. It was scary, it really was. I thought we might have a riot on our hands, but luckily the cops showed up and escorted us out of there. It was a great flight home though. I remember looking at everybody with their fresh stitches, it was marvelous. We were victorious in my eyes because that just set the stage for our eventual meeting with them in the playoffs. The bad part of it all was that the league president called me into his office shortly thereafter and I caught hell from him. He asked me if I had incited my guys to play that way that night and I said "absolutely." I told him that we needed to make a stand and that I wasn't going to apologize for that. I got fined for it, but [North Stars general manager] Louie Nanne gladly paid it for me. He knew what I was up to and was behind me 100%.Back on the ice, we finished up the 1980-81 regular season and went on to meet Boston in the first round of the playoffs. Now, just before we hit the ice at the Garden, I did something that I had never done before. I put on my eye patch, just like the old pirates used to wear. It is a crazy story of how I decided to put it on too. You see, just before I left for the airport from my house in Hopkins, I got a letter from a fan that somehow caught my attention. I was in a hurry, but for some odd reason I took a second to open it up and read it. I was from a woman in White Bear Lake who said that she was a psychic. She said that she had a vision of me standing behind the bench in the Boston Garden with an eye patch on and that she saw us beating what she called the "Curse of the Garden." Her name was Amy Puckett, as in hockey puck, so I figured it had to be a good omen. Hell, I figured I could use all the good karma I could get at that point, so I ran back into the house and grabbed my eye patch [Sonmor had suffered a career ending eye injury as a player when hit by a slap shot and had a glass eye]. Anyhow, I put that patch on right before we hit the ice and I remember screaming out just like a general leading his troops into battle: "Boys, the curse ends tonight!"We walked out onto the ice and the atmosphere in there was just electric. We had still never on out there up until that point, but thankfully that all ended in Game One when Steve Payne score the game-winner at the 3:34 mark of overtime to give us a thrilling 5-4 victory. The curse had officially been lifted and we were on top of the world. We were expecting another blood bath, but they played us straight up and it ended up to be a hell of a series. We then followed that up with a 9-6 victory in Game Two, behind our backup goalie Donny Beaupre. From there, we came home to Bloomington for Game Three and it was just louder than hell in there. I mean the walls in the locker room were literally vibrating. It was insane. We were really confident in ourselves at that point and we went out there and finished them off by the final score of 6-3 to sweep the series. After the game legendary radio analyst Al Shaver said it was the biggest upset in Stars history. I would whole-heartedly agree, it was huge. More importantly, we had earned Boston's respect.
The first period of the game on February 25 took an hour and 31 minutes and saw 12 players ejected and 67 penalties called, including a North Stars team record 39 minutes for Steve Payne.
By the end of the game, each team was called for 42 penalties and they totaled an NHL record 406 minutes. The North Stars alone were penalized for 211 minutes from 18 minors, 13 majors, four ten-minute misconducts and seven game misconducts.
Today's featured jersey is a 1980-81 Minnesota North Stars Steve Payne jersey from the year of the North Stars infamous brawl with the Boston Bruins. Payne was drafted in the second round of the 1978 NHL draft after the North Stars had drafted his junior hockey linemate Bobby Smith with the first overall pick in the draft. The two would be teammates for five seasons before Smith was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens.
Payne would eventually play ten seasons, all with the North Stars, but his final three seasons would be severely curtailed by injury. He would finish his career with 613 games played, 228 goals and 238 assists for 466 points and 435 penalty minutes, 9% of which came in the one
notorious game verus Boston! Payne's 39 minutes in that game on this date in 1981 were five minutes short of being half of his total for the entire season.
Here is footage of Wensink challenging the North Stars bench previous to the record setting penalty minute game. You can also see the brutality the Bruins dished out to the North Stars that had coach Sonmor so fed up.
Here is the peak of the mayhem from the record setting 406 penalty minute brawl game when the benches clear and the fighting spills into the off ice area in between the benches.
Today, Sonmor does the color commentary for the University of Minnesota Gophers and makes to apologies for wearing his love of the Gophers on his sleeve. In this clip, Sonmor has had enough of the fans in Madison, Wisconsin booing Madison native Phil Kessel all game long for his decision to spurn Wisconsin and choose to play for Minnesota and lets his feelings be known when Kessel has the last laugh by scoring a goal.
Here is a two part interview with the always entertaining Glen Sonmor, a true Minnesota hockey legend, as he talks Gophers, Minnesota Fighting Saints hockey, including discovering the Carlson Brothers, who would star in the movie Slap Shot as the Hanson Brothers, and the Birmingham Bulls of the WHA.
Dasherboard: Today's semifinals at the Vancouver Olympic hockey tournament have the United States facing off against Finland in the early game (NBC, CTV), while Canada hopes to continue to build the momentum gained by defeats of overmatched Germany and Russia when they take on Slovakia in the late game (CNBC, CTV).
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Born on this date in Worthing, Sussex, England in 1971, Byron Dafoe was drafted 35th overall by the Washington Capitals in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft.
Dafoe, who moved to Canada when he was just two months old, made his NHL debut in the 1992-93 season for the Captials. prior to turning pro, Dafoe played for the Portland (Oregon) Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League in Canadian Juniors for two seasons before being traded to the Prince Albert Raiders early in the third season of 1990-91.
He would begin the long road to the NHL by first playing professionally with the Baltimore Skipjacks and the New Haven Nighthawks of the AHL and also the Hampton Roads Admirals in the East Coast Hockey League all in 1991-92.
The following season of 1992-93 was one of more stability and progress, as Dafoe would spend the entire season in the minors with just the Skipjacks, along with reaching the pinnacle by making his NHL debut with one game up with the Washington Capitals in relief duty that totaled...
one solitary minute.
Fortunately for Dafoe, that would not be the extent of his NHL career. He spent the majority of the 1993-94 season with the Portland (Maine) Pirates of the AHL, winning 24 games in 47 appearances as the Pirates captured the Calder Cup as AHL champions.
Dafoe would also get into five games with the Capitals that season, earning his first NHL victory on March 31 against the Chicago Blackhawks, finishing with a 2-2 record. Additionally, he would appear in two playoff games with the Capitals that season.
Dafoe spend most of the 1994-95 season with the Phoenix Roadrunners of the International Hockey League, posting a 25-16 record, and also got into six games with the Portland Pirates as well as adding four more games to his NHL total with Washington.
Having played just 10 NHL games with the Capitals, Dafoe was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings for the 1995-96 season, where he had 47 appearances that season, nearly five times more in one season with the Kings than he saw in three with Washington.
After a second season with the Kings, Dafoe was traded back east to the Boston Bruins, where he would become the Bruins number one goalie.
"Lord Byron" played 65 games in 1997-98 and then had arguably the best season of his career in 1998-99, going 32-23-11 with a goals against average of 1.99.
He would appear in 41 games in 1999-00 and 45 more the following year before another fine season in 2001-02, with 64 appearances and a 35-26-3 record and a 2.21 goals against to lead Boston back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. It was to be his last season with the Bruins however, as he would sign with the Atlanta Thrashers as a free agent for the final two seasons of his career.
In all, Dafoe would play in 12 NHL seasons, 415 games going 171-170-56 and a career average of 2.68 goals against.
Today's featured jersey is a CCM 1994-95 Portland Pirates Byron Dafoe jersey. The Pirates moved from Baltimore where they were known as the Skipjacks until moving to Portland for the 1993-94 season and winning the championship in their first season in their new home. They would reach the finals again in 1996 after going on a roll in the playoffs despite a sub .500 regular season record.
Dafoe was not afraid to mix it up, and we've got evidence to back that up today, as nothing beats a good goalie fight!
On today's fight card, Byron Dafoe vs. Patrick Lalime.
Dasherboard: In men's hockey yesterday, the Swiss gave the United States all they could handle and only an empty net goal by Zach Parise with 11 seconds left sealed the deal for the US. The Americans actually put three pucks behind Jonas Hiller, but only one went up on the scoreboard, as time ran out just as the first one was crossing the line after defecting off Hiller's stick and back in one of the most unusual plays we have ever seen.
A very determined Canada had their way with Russia, seemingly scoring at will against Evgeni Nabokov until he was mercifully pulled in the second period. Canada scored at 2:21 of the first and then added a pair 46 seconds apart just past the halfway point. Russia scored at 14:39 to give them some temporary hope they could get back into the game before Brendan Morrow restored the three goal lead and put the faint Russian hopes on life support.
Nabokov looked especially bad on the next two Canadian goals in the first four minutes of the second, ending his day. Russia scored two meaningless goals while Canada got to Ilya Bryzgalov for another to close out the scoring as the third period went without a goal.
In a close fought battle, Finland ousted the Czech Republic 2-0. Finland took advantage of a power play when Niklas Hagman tipped in a shot by Janne Niskala while Pavel Kubina was out of position due to an IIHF rule which required him to retrieve his helmet before continuing play.
"It's was good for us he lost his helmet, but it's a stupid rule," Hagman said. "I know they want to keep it safe, if you lose helmet, you should let the guy play. I don't know what they're thinking, but that's the rules and you have to play with them."
An empty net goal give Finland their final 2-0 margin and a date with the United States in the semifinals.
Slovakia defeated the defending Olympic champions Sweden 4-3. Henrik Lundqvist faced only 14 Slovak shots, but four of them found their way into the net with Tomas Kopecky getting the game winner midway through the third period in the late night game.
After a scoreless first period, the teams broke out for five goals in the second, with Gaborik getting a beautiful deflection for Slovakia at 7:34. They extended their lead to two less than 40 seconds later on a goal by Andrej Sekera.
Sweden countered with a pair 37 seconds apart from Patric Hornqvist and Henrik Zetterberg only to have Pavol Demitra put Slovakia back up by one at 3-2 within the final minute of the period.
Slovakia went up 4-2 at 9:01 of the third when Tomas Kopecky scored only to have Daniel Alfredsson counter 38 seconds later. Sweden was unable to get the equalizer despite outshooting Slovakia 10-3 for the period and 29-14 for the game.
Slovakia gets the unenviable task of taking on the resurgent Canadians in front of their rabid home crowd and will certainly need to find a way to put more shots on goal if they are to have a chance to advance to the Gold Medal Final.
Today's Olympic hockey features the women's gold medal final with Canada taking on the United States, in it what essentially is a one game tournament, as both teams have completely demolished their opponents by combined scores of 86-4. Until the rest of the world catches up to these to teams, it might be in the sport's best interest to make the women's championship a best of three format in order to provide a greater number of more meaningful games on the women's side.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
It was on this date in 2002 that Canada won their first Olympic gold medal in 50 years with a 5-2 win over the host United States.
Canada started out their tournament on a down note, losing 5-2 to Sweden while wearing their alternate jerseys with the throwback logo. It would be the last time they would wear the jerseys, now classified as bad luck.
The scrutiny of Canada only increased after their next game, a narrow 3-2 defeat of Germany and the pressure intensified even further when their next game against the Czech Republic ended in a 3-3 draw, leaving Canada third in Group A with a dismal 1-1-1 record.
The Canadians drew the second place finisher in Group B Finland for their first knockout game in the quarterfinals and defeated the Finns 2-1 to advance to a dream matchup with Belarus, who had shocked the world with their stunning upset of Sweden.
Canada gained their place in the gold medal game by destroying Belarus 7-1, setting up a matchup with the host United States, who had defeated Russia 3-2 in their semi-final.
The Americans, coached by none other than the architect of the 1980 United States gold medal team Herb Brooks, were looking to win their third gold on home soil, as they had won gold as hosts in 1960 and 1980.
The United States broke out on top on a goal by Tony Amonte to electrify the home fans but then Paul Kariya scored just over six minutes later.
Jarome Iginla then added a second after less than four minutes had elapsed to take a 2-1 lead to whip the many Canadians in attendance into a frenzy of their own.
Brian Rafalski tied the score in the second after the Americans had killed off a two man disadvantage to give the Americans renewed hope, only to have Joe Sakic regain the lead for Canada before the period would end in what was shaping up to be a real classic.
Canada took the lead in the third period when Iginla got his second of the game with less than four minutes left to play and Sakic put the game out of reach with his second goal as well sending the Canadian contingent into pandemonium.
Following the game, the Canadians retrieved the Canadian dollar coin buried under center ice by ice maker Trent Evans. A dime was originally placed there in order to have a locator for the center ice dot and grew into a good luck charm, whose presence was nearly given away by the Canadian women's team following their earlier gold medal victory celebration three days before the men's final.
The "Lucky Loonie" was presented to Team Canada general manager Wayne Gretzky and given to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Canadian captain Mario Lemeiux had only played 23 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins prior to the Olympics due to injuries and a rest to fulfill his desire to participate in his only Olympic opportunity of his storied career. Once in the Olympics, Lemeiux would require pain-killing shots for his ailing hip. After the conclusion of the games, Lemeiux would only play in one more game for the Penguins before being shut down for the remainder of the season, but with his coveted gold medal in his pocket to soothe his discomfort and complete his resume as a player.
Today's featured jersey is a Nike 2002 Team Canada Mario Lemieux jersey as worn on the day that Canada defeated the United States 5-2 to capture their first Olympic gold medal in half a century.
Here are the highlights of the 2002 Olympic gold medal final between Canada and the United States.
Dasherboard: What a day of hockey yesterday. In the first game Belarus took Switzerland to a shootout decided by the narrowest of margins in favor of the Swiss, who now advance to face the United States today in the early game (NBC).
Canada predictably got healthy with a dominant 8-2 win over Germany, but that game was the last lopsided game of the day. Canada needed a game like that to put their less than stellar group stage behind them. It's a whole new tournament now that the elimination games have arrived and Canada will be looking to repeat their 2002 Olympics, when they also got off to a dismal start but got their act together in time for the playoff stage and marched to gold on this day in 2002.
Canada must now face off against Russia (CNBC) in a game many thought would arrive one or two rounds later than the quarterfinals before the tournament began. It's hard to imagine that one of these two countries will be shut out of the medals, but that's the situation they find themselves in. It's do or die time and the winner of this game will certainly appreciate having the day off tomorrow. Ratings for the marquee matchup between Sidney Crosby and rival Alexander Ovechkin should be the strongest of the day by far.
The scrappy Latvians once more gave one of the top clubs all they could handle yesterday. This is the kind of effort that Latvia is known for, particularly in the World Championships. Down 2-0 after the first period, the Latvians circled the wagons in the second and dramatically started to turn the tide of play in the third, coming up with a pair of goals four minutes apart in the latter half of the period to put a scare into the Czechs, who were forced to play the majority of the game without star Jaromir Jagr. The Czechs eventually advanced on a goal in overtime at the 5:10 mark. Had this been the group stage, overtime would have ended at the five minute mark and the game would have gone to a shootout.
The Czechs now must hope to have Jagr's services for their game today against Finland (CNBC).
Yesterday's final game had all the looks of a blowout as the Slovakians got off to a quick two goal lead by the halfway mark of the first period and countered Norway's first goal in less than a minute to take away any momentum that Norway hoped to carry into the intermission despite being out shot 21-2.
The second period was a different story however, as the shots on goal finished much more even at 13-10 for Slovakia, but the scoreboard was a different story as Norway evened the game with on goals by Tore Vikingstad, his fourth of the Olympics, and a dramatic buzzer-beater in the final second of the period to make it a 20 minute game and send Norway into the locker room on a high.
Slovakia went ahead on a goal by Miroslav Satan near the mid point of the period and held off Norway to advance to the final game today versus Sweden (CNBC).
The winners of today's games will all have a day off tomorrow, as the women's tournament concludes with the much anticipated Canada versus the United States gold medal game (MSNBC), and the tournament resumes on Friday with the semifinals.
One thing we must discuss before concluding today is the television coverage of Olympic hockey by the NBC crew. While they are doing fine job of covering the games, they are completely lacking in covering the event that is international hockey. That was never more apparent than during last night's Czech Republic vs. Latvia game from the UBC Thunderbird Arena when the CBC crew doing the broadcast actually showed some of the color an olympic hockey tournament, where thousands of fans wear their team colors, hundreds wave flags and dozens, if not hundreds, of crazies wear all manner of wild hats and wigs and face painting abounds.
During the previous group stage of games on NBC, CNBC, MSNBC and USA, I could count the number of crowed shots on one hand, while the director of last night's game from the Thunderbird arena slipped in shot after shot of supporters with their allegiances on full display, one of the most fun parts of any international tournament.
If this were ABC, we'd be sick to death by now of seeing the player's wives and girlfriends, but there's got to be a happy medium, and I encourage the directors of the broadcasts in the main arena to turn the cameras around now and then instead of showing yet another closeup of a player meandering into position awaiting a faceoff. You're showing the games alright, but you're missing the spectacle of thousands of supporters from all over the globe having the time of their lives, something truly unique about the international hockey experience.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
On this date in 1991, Michel Goulet of the Chicago Blackhawks registered a hat trick, the 14th of his career, to give him 1,000 career points in a 3-3 tie against the Minnesota North Stars.
Goulet scored 135 points for the Quebec Remparts during his last season of junior hockey before turning professional with the Birmingham Bulls of the World Hockey Association at age 18 as part of the Bulls policy of signing underage players, which earned them the nickname of "The Baby Bulls". Goulet would score 58 points in his only season with the Bulls, who were left behind when the WHA merged with the NHL before the next season began.
Declared eligible for the 1979 draft, Goulet was chosen by the Quebec Nordiques, who were one of the four WHA teams to be absorbed by the NHL that year.
Goulet would spend 11 seasons with the Nordiques, beginning with the 1979-80 season. His point totals would steadily increase from 54 to 71 to 84 and then finally topping 100 for the first time with 105 in 1982-83. His goal totals would also show steady progress from 22 to 32 to 42 and then finally hitting a career high with 57, the first of four consecutive 50+ goal seasons.
1983-84 was his finest offensive season with 56 goals and 65 assists for 121 points, good for third place in the NHL scoring race that season.
When is streak of 50 goal seasons ended with 49 in 1986-87, he scored 48 the following season to give him seven consecutive 40+ goal seasons.
Goulet was traded on March 5, 1990 as part of a youth movement by the horrid Nordiques, who would finish last in the league that season with 31 points, 33 behind the next worst club. He would be limited to 63 games that season, but would manage 20 goals that year, as well as the next three seasons in Chicago, giving him 14 consecutive seasons with 20 goals or more. Only in his final season of 56 games would Goulet finish with under 20 for the year.
It was on this date in 1991 that Goulet reached the 1,000 point milestone and the 1991-92 season saw Goulet join the 500 goal club. He would reach 1,000 NHL games in 1992-93 and close out his career after one more campaign which ended prematurely due to a severe concussion.
The Nordiques would retire his #16 a year after his final game in 1995 and he would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998 with 1,089 NHL games played, 548 goals and 604 assists for 1,152 points.
Internationally, Goulet would play for Canada in the 1983 World Championships earning a bronze medal, both the 1984 and 1987 Canada Cups, winning the championship both times, as well as for the NHL All-Stars against the Soviet Union in Rendez-vous '87.
Today's featured jersey is a 1993-94 Chicago Blackhawks Michel Goulet jersey from his final season in the NHL. This basic style of Blackhawks jersey was first introduced in 1955 and has undergone minimal detail changes ever since. It regularly finishes at the top of "Best Jersey" lists, with it's classic Indian head logo and iconic secondary logo with the crossed tomahawks.
Today's video section begins with the Legends of Hockey profile of Michel Goulet.
Our next videos are of the Quebec Nordiques retiring Goulet's sweater #16 in 1995. Part 1 is the raising of the banner, while Part 2 is Goulet addressing the fans in his native French.
Dasherboard: Today begins a 36 hour orgy of Olympic hockey with no less than eight single elimination playoff games today and tomorrow.
The Puck Fest kicks off with Switzerland and Belarus (USA Network) in the first game, with the winner advancing to face the #1 seeded United States tomorrow in the first game in NBC.
Canada will be looking to right their ship when they take on Germany (CNBC) for the right to face Russia tomorrow.
The third game today has the Czech Republic versus Latvia (CNBC) with the winner facing Finland and in the final game today, Slovakia battles Norway (CNBC) to get the opportunity to face Sweden.
Will there be an upset today similar to Belarus' upset over Sweden in 2002? While we consider the Switzerland vs. Belarus game to be a toss-up, the three lowest seeds, Norway, Germany and Latvia are long shots to advance, but as history shows, strange things can happen in a one-game knockout format.
Monday, February 22, 2010
On this date in 1980, the United States Olympic Hockey Team, led by legendary coach Herb Brooks and captained by Mike Eruzione, shocked the world with their stunning 4-3 victory over the Soviet Union.
Today, Eruzione makes appearances as a motivational speaker and is said to have never met a hand he wouldn't shake or a microphone he didn't like.
Eruzione was born in Winthrop, Massachusetts in 1954 and graduated from Winthrop Senior High School in 1972, where he was captain of the hockey team his senior year. Following high school, Eruzione attended Berwick Academy for a year before joining the hockey program at Boston University.
While at BU, Eruzione was a model of consistency and would average 23 goals a season, never scoring less than 21, making the Frozen Four each of his four seasons there. His senior season was his best, with 23 goals and 41 assists for 64 points which allowed him to become BU's all time leading scorer with 208 points.
Importantly, he would also gain valuable international experience by playing for Team USA at both the 1975 and 1976 World Championships.
Little known are the details of Eruzione's hockey career in between Boston University and the 1980 Olympics, as Eruzione would follow his college career with two full seasons with the Toledo Goaldiggers of the International Hockey League.
Eruzione would score 30 goals and 56 assists for 86 points, finishing second in team scoring. He would also contribute 21 points in 17 playoff games as Toledo would capture the prestigious Turner Cup by defeating the Port Huron Flags in seven games in the finals. Eruzione was named the IHL Rookie of the Year following the season.
His second season in Toledo saw Eruzione score another 27 goals and 72 points. He also has six games with the Philadelphia Firebirds on his record with no points scored.
Eruzione became part of the 1980 United States Olympic Team the next season and was named the team captain. In preparation for the Olympics, the team made up of college amateurs with an average age of 22, would play a four month schedule of games against college, minor, pro and national teams, the kind of familiarity and unity modern Olympic teams comprised of professionals thrown together on short notice can only dream about.
Brooks, the final cut from the gold medal winning 1960 USA Olympic Hockey Team, put into place a plan to emphasize speed, conditioning and discipline when taking on the much older and vastly more experienced Soviet team, who, while technically considered amateurs by the letter of the law, were anything but. Brooks also needed a way to unite his club that had the potential for division due to the large numbers of players from either Minnesota or Massachusetts splitting the squad into divisive factions. He chose to do that by challenging his team physically, as he raised their conditioning level, and mentally, as he drove them with his words. The effect brought the team together against a common foe - Brooks.
Just prior to the Olympics, Brooks scheduled a game against the Soviets on purpose, which the Americans famously lost 10-3. Now that they had faced the Soviets once, they could get the awe out of their system should they meet again in Lake Placid.
The games in Lake Placid for the United States began with a come from behind 2-2 tie against Sweden. While not a win, the dramatic goal against favored Sweden with goalie Jim Craig pulled for an extra attacker with just 27 seconds remaining felt just like a win.
A tough looking matchup on paper against Czechoslovakia, a team with future NHLers Jiri Bubla, Miroslav Dvorak, Miroslav Frycer, Milan Novy, Jaroslav Pouzar and Anton, Marian and Peter Stastny, ended with a confidence building 7-3 win for the Americans whose first goal was scored by Eruzione.
The schedule now turned in the United States favor, with easy wins over Norway, again with Eruzione scoring the first American goal, and Romania before a 4-2 win over West Germany to finish group play tied with Sweden at 4-0-1 and a place in the four team medal round and a date with destiny on this date in 1980 with the Soviet Union.
Following the first five game group stage of the tournament, Eruzione was sixth on team scoring (and 25th in the group) with two goals and two assists, behind Rob McClanahan, Buzz Schneider and Mark Johnson with seven points and Mark Pavelich and Dave Christian with five.
With their previous tie against Sweden carrying over into the Medal Round standings, as well as the Soviet's 4-2 win over Finland, the Americans began Medal Round play already down a point to the Soviets in the standings.
The game, which was played in the afternoon but not broadcast on ABC until later that evening, forcing us to listen to the game live on the radio, began with the Soviet's Valdimir Krutov, a future Vancouver Canuck, scoring at 9:12 of the first period. Schneider tied the game at 1-1 on a goal from Pavelich only to have the Soviets move back ahead with a goal at 17:34 from future Calgary Flame Sergei Makarov.
With the second ticking down in the first period, Christian dumped the puck in from beyond the center red line with five seconds remaining in the peroid. Soviet Goaltender Vladislav Tretiak put his pads together and allowed the puck to rebound far in front of him, right to a hustling Johnson who flew in between a pair of defenders, scooped up the puck, put a deke on the flat-footed Tretiak to go around him to Johnson's left and put the puck into the wide open Soviet net with one second remaining in the period. We recall it taking an eternity while listening to the game live on the radio for the goal to be allowed, as there was some question at the time if the goal had come before time expired in the period.
In his anger over the late goal, Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov pulled Tretiak and replaced him with backup Vladimir Myshkin, to the surprise of everyone involved when the Soviets returned to the ice to take the faceoff to complete the first period, having retreated to the locker room in order to pressure the officials into deciding the period had indeed ended.
Despite the high of ending the first period tied at 2-2, the Soviets once more took the lead, their third of the game, with a goal by Alexandre Maltsev just 2:18 into the second period on a power play. With way more than half the game left to be played and three Soviet goals on the scoreboard already, no one could imagine that would be the Soviets final goal of the game.
Craig kept the Soviets off the board for the remainder of the period, despite the outshooting the Americans 12-2, so the third period opened with the Soviets up 3-2 and holding a 30-10 advantage in shots on goal.
Johnson evened the score on the power play just before the halfway point of the third with his second goal of the game at 8:39 when Dave Silk shot towards the net, which was blocked by a defender. Johnson however, pulled the loose puck away from the defender's stick and fired the puck past Myshkin to tie the game at 3-3 and send the fans into a state of delirium.
Just 1:21 later, Eruzione's legacy as a hockey player would be sealed. Schneider would dump the puck into the Soviet zone where it would be deflected by Myshkin to his right. The puck would then be weakly moved toward a teammate by a Soviet defender under pressure from an American forechecker. Before it could reach the other Soviet, the puck was intercepted by Pavelich who somehow got the puck back into the center of the zone just above the faceoff circles, despite facing and moving the opposite direction while falling down, where it was corralled by Eruzione (which is Italian for "eruption"), who squared himself to the net and, using Vasily Pervukhin as a screen, fired the puck past Myshkin from 25 feet out, sending the arena into pure bedlam and himself into the record books with the most famous goal ever scored in hockey history.
The remainder of the game was an agonizing ten minutes that seemed to last 60, as Craig made save after save against the Soviet attack. The Americans kept to Brooks game plan, with short shifts using all four lines, putting their conditioning to the use Brooks envisioned months earlier against the veteran Soviets.
Finally, the crowd changed their chants from "USA! USA!" to "TEN! NINE! EIGHT! SEVEN! SIX! FIVE! FOUR! THREE!" at which point broadcaster Al Michaels delivered his famous line: "Do you believe in miracles? YES!" as the game ended and the players burst into cheers and hugs, while Brooks vanished up the corridor and out of view.
In cold, hard numbers, the win gave the USA three points in the standings to the Soviet Union's and Sweden's 2 points and Finland's 1, following the Swedes and Finns 3-3 tie the same day, setting up the United States final game against Finland. Assuming the Soviets would beat Sweden, which they did 9-2, a US win over Finland was still required for the Americans to win gold outright.
Finland led the final game of the tournament 2-1 after two periods, but after a furious Brooks warned the team during the final intermission that "If you lose this game, you will take it to your f***ing grave." He then walked almost all the way out of the room before turning around and repating "To your f***king grave." Properly motivated, the team came out and scored goals by Phil Verchota, McClanahan and Johnson to win the game 4-2 to capture the gold medal and set off a new round of celebrations having successfully completed not just a seven game tournament, but a journey that began months earlier, as Brooks transformed them from college kids into Olympic champions.
It was the last game Eruzione would ever play.
Despite the game against Finland being his last, Eruizone had one more memorable moment up his sleeve. During the medal ceremony, where only the captain of each team was to mount the podium, Eruzione famously called for his teammates to join him on the top step of the platform which was only just barely large enough to accommodate them all.
The game against the Soviets would become to be known as "The Miracle on Ice" and would be named by the IIHF as the Top International Hockey Story of the Century.
Today's featured jersey is a 1980 United States Mike Eruzione jersey, as worn during "The Miracle on Ice" when Mike Eruzione scored "The Goal Heard 'Round the World" in a 4-3 victory over the Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympics.
Despite a contract offer from the New York Rangers, Eruzione never played hockey again, stating that he'd reached the pinnacle of achievement already.
The team would reunite 22 years later to light the torch to open the next Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in 2002.
Dasherboard: In a memorable day of top level hockey, the opening game of the day saw classic rivals Russia and the Czech Republic square off with first place in Group B and a bye on the line.
Evgeni Malkin opened the scoring at 15:13 of the first on the powerplay. The Czech Republic countered with 54 seconds left in the period on a two man advantage to send the teams to the locker room tied at 1-1.
Viktor Kozlov put Russia back up by one 4 1/2 minutes into the second period before Evgeni Malkin widened the Russian lead to 3-1 on his second goal of the game after a thunderous check by Alexander Ovechkin separated Jaromir Jagr from the puck, triggering a Russian counter attack which led to the goal.
Milan Michalek got the Czechs back to within one five minutes into the third and the nail-biting game remained in doubt until an empty net goal by Pavel Datsyuk with 13 seconds remaining sealed the fate of the Czechs.
Game two of the day was a scintillating affair played at a frenetic pace from start to finish, described by commentator Eddie Olczyk as "tremendously tremendous". This game was what makes international hockey so special and sets it apart from the NHL version - when national pride is on the line.
Brian Rafalski scored the vital first goal for the Americans a mere 41 seconds into the game, denying the partisan home fans the chance to get into full voice. Not long after failing to convert on a powerplay, the Canadians got on the board with a nice tip-in from Eric Staal to even the score at 1-1. Rafalski scored again, the defensemen's fourth consecutive goal for the United States over the last two games, to put the US back on top at 2-1 and the period would end that way with the Canadians outshooting the US 19-6.
Just three minutes into the second, Dany Heatley ted the game for Canada. The teams would trade chances as they flew up and down the ice, hitting anyone who touched the puck in a terrific display of hockey before American veteran Chris Drury scored at 16:46 to put the United States back up by a goal for the third time. The period would conclude with the USA credited with 13 shots to Canada's 12.
Rafalski nearly completed a hat trick on the powerplay with a shot from the point into traffic, but the puck redirected past Martin Broduer after hitting the skate blade of the American captain Jaime Langenbrunner stationed in front of the goal to give the US a two goal cushion, but with plenty of time remaining for a Canadian comeback.
When Erik Johnson was sent to the penalty box, Canada was able to capitalize when Sidney Crosby redirected a puck past Ryan Miller in the American goal to reduce the US advantage back down to a single goal with three minutes remaining and setting up a frantic finish.
The Canadian pressure resembled a power play, as the United States failed to clear the puck again and again. Shot after shot rained in on Miller, who stood tall in the nets for the US as the time wound down (or dragged on depending on your partisanship). The onslaught resulted in a 14-4 advantage in shots for Canada in the third and 45-23 in favor of the Canadians for the game.
Finally with Brodeur out of the net for an extra Canadian attacker, the puck was cleared down to the Canadian end, where Ryan Kesler of the United States hustled down the ice draped over the back of Canadian Cory Perry and dove while swinging his stick in the process, launching the puck into the unguarded net for the greatest empty net goal ever to seal the game for the Americans 5-3.
Miller finished the game with 42 saves, to just 18 for Brodeur, which included a terrific glove save while lying prone on the ice of a Jarome Iginla blast from point blank range with less than three minutes remaining.
The win clinches first place in Group A for the United States and earns them one of the coveted byes into the quarterfinals, while Canada is relegated to having to play and extra game on Tuesday to earn it's place in the quarterfinals. This game could be the confidence builder that launches this young team on it's way to a medal placing, much the same way that the 1980 US Olympic team built it's confidence and momentum as their tournament progressed.
Still, even with the extra game now on their schedule, Canada should have little trouble in advancing past Germany, who has shown little offensive ability, with just three goals in three games so far. Given our choice to pick one roster in the tournament needing four straight wins for gold, we would be quite happy with Canada's roster and the bonus of the support of the home fans. If Canada can isolate themselves from the intense scrutiny and over analyzation of their last two games in hockey obsessed Canada, there's no reason this team can't be playing for gold in a week's time.
Unfortunately for Canada, once past Germany, a date with the Russians looms on the horizon, as the game many predicted for the gold medal final may occur in the quarterfinals, leaving one team by the wayside days before the medals are handed out.
Sweden made easy work of Finland in the last game of the day, shutting down the Finns 3-0 to win Group C, earn a bye and allow the United States to surprisingly lock up the #1 seed. Sweden got a goal in the first period from Loui Eriksson with a two man advantage. Nicklas Backstrom added a second four minutes into the second before Eriksson got the third Swedish goal with two minutes remaining in the period to close out the scoring, as the teams played a scoreless third to close out the final period of the preliminary round.
It's worth noting that the teams are now placed into brackets and will not be re-seeded following the games on Tuesday should one of the lower three teams pull off an unexpected upset.
When play resumes on Tuesday, the #5 seeded Czech Republic plays #12 Latvia with the winner facing #4 Finland, who earned a bye based on their goal differential over the Czechs, on Wednesday. The #1 seeded United States will wait to face the survivor of #8 Switzerland's game with #9 Belarus. The two survivors from these trios will meet in the semifinals for the chance to play for gold. Despite the presence of both the Finns and the Czechs in their bracket, only one can advance to face the United States if the US wins their quarterfinal.
The United States earned the #1 seed due to the three seemingly meaningless late goals they scored in the last six minutes versus Norway that gave them the advantage in goal differential over undefeated Sweden, which allowed the Americans to avoid being placed in the lower bracket with Slovakia, Canada and Russia.
In the lower bracket, #6 Canada faces off against winless #11 Germany for the right to face #3 Russia on Wednesday and #7 Slovakia gets #10 Norway with the winner having to play #2 Sweden. The two teams to emerge from these six will also square off in the semifinals to determine who plays for the gold medal. With Slovakia, Canada, Russia and Sweden in the same bracket, it worth noting that only two of these clubs will eventually play for a medal.
With the men having the day off, the spotlight now turns to the women's bracket, with the United States looking to avenge their 2006 loss to Sweden for the right to play in the gold medal final on Thursday. Canada takes on Finland for the other spot in the championship game. The United States in currently 3-0 with a 31-1 edge in goals while Canada is also 3-0 with a 41-2 margin in goals.