It was overtime, Canada and the U.S. were tied 2-2...
It wasn't supposed to be like this, but the Americans pulled their goalie in the closing minute of the game and with an extra attacker on the ice they evened up the game with just 25 seconds on the clock. It was sudden death all of a sudden, and the next goal would decide the Olympic men's gold medal hockey game.
A nation held its breath. Canada had already had a great Olympic Games by any standard, but this was the one medal that the country needed. Over 90 per cent of Canadians were following the game on television or radio, by phone and on the Internet.
Then it happened.
Sidney Crosby intercepted a clearing puck at the blue line and cycled it back up the boards to Jarome Iginla. Crosby was knocked backwards, but got to his feet and headed back to the net. There wasn't a defenceman in sight.
Iginla came up with the puck as he was being pushed to the ice and fed it onto Crosby's stick. Crosby, gliding in slow motion, trapped the puck on his stick, then loosed it between the legs of American goalie Ryan Miller.
And Canada went wild. Hosers from coast to coast leaped off their couches, loungers and bar stools, collectively spilling a million litres of beer down their authentic Team Canada jerseys, and hugged the people standing next to them.
For one brief, shining moment, everything was perfect in Canada.
No question that it was an extraordinary finish to an extraordinary Olympic Games, a roller coaster ride that won't soon be forgotten.
The Games really couldn't have started any worse, with a young Georgian luger dying during a training run at the Whistler Sliding Centre, hours before the opening ceremonies. The opening ceremonies themselves had mechanical issues, and one of four torches in B.C. Place failed to rise. The next day there were violent protests in Vancouver (an American was arrested), then various issues with transportation and fencing. On the field of play some of our medal hopefuls missed the mark, and our chances looked bleak. Other countries began to openly mock Canada's Own The Podium program, which contributed $117 million in extra funding towards Canada's winter sports associations over the previous five years.
Then. little by little, things began to change.
It all started when mogul skier Alex Bilodeau broke the curse to become the first Canadian to win a medal at home in our three Olympic Games. (Previously Canada had the dubious distinction of being the only nation never to win a gold medal at home.)
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