The final day saw Canada and the USA produce a gold medal game in the men’s ice hockey that will go down in history, as the hosts grabbed a dramatic overtime win thanks to star player Sidney Crosby.
Sometimes sport throws up events so remarkable that they wouldn’t be out of place in the plot of a Hollywood film. Over the years, the Olympic Games has often been the stage for such dramas and, on the final day of Vancouver 2010, fans across the world were treated to yet another storyline that will go down in Olympic – and Canadian – history. But even the most imaginative Hollywood scriptwriter would have struggled to match the drama that unfolded at Canada Hockey Place, as the hosts and the USA contested the final of the men’s ice hockey.
A Jonathan Toews goal in the first period, and Corey Perry’s strike in the second, had given Canada a 2-0 lead, but Ryan Kesler struck back to set up a tense third period, as the hosts sought to win a record eighth ice hockey gold and the USA went in search of their first Olympic title since 1980.
With Canada still leading 2-1 – and with just 90 seconds remaining in the third period – the USA replaced goalkeeper Ryan Miller with an extra attacker as they chased an elusive equaliser. The hosts were forced into some frantic defending as the clock ticked down, but their resolve – and the hearts of millions of Canadian fans – was finally broken with just 24 seconds left, as Zach Parise slotted home to take the game into overtime. Each team was reduced to four outfield players for the extra 20-minute period and the game became far more open as the sides went in search of a winning sudden-death goal.
And, after just eight minutes, the moment came for someone to etch their name into the history books.
Fittingly, the opening fell to Canadian idol Sidney Crosby, who had missed an earlier one-on-one opportunity to put his side 3-1 up at the end of the third period. The NHL superstar had been relatively quiet throughout the tournament, but, when the chance came to cement his position in Canadian hockey folklore, he wasn’t going to fluff his lines again. Receiving the puck from Jarome Iginla, Crosby took a quick touch before firing low past Miller, prompting wild celebrations across the country.
“It doesn’t even feel real. It feels like a dream,” said Crosby afterwards. “Our team worked really hard in regulation time and they got that one by us in the end. But we came out in overtime and this is just an unbelievable feeling. You dream of this moment a thousand times growing up as a kid.”
The memorable victory brought the curtain down on Vancouver 2010 in the most dramatic way possible – giving the hosts a record 14th gold medal and providing the Games with a fairytale ending. As the party atmosphere that had been witnessed on the streets of Vancouver throughout the Games reached a crescendo, the exuberant celebrations continued at the Closing Ceremony, where the emergence of the Canadian team led to the biggest cheer of the night.