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Ice Hockey: Memories of '98 Olympic loss to Czechs creep in

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posted on Sep, 10 2004 @ 02:29 PM
TORONTO (CP) - Wayne Gretzky calls it the most surprising loss in his international playing career.

Few will ever forget The Great One sitting on the bench, watching Team Canada lose a shootout to the Czech Republic in a stunning semifinal defeat at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games. Like this year's World Cup team, Canada had gone into the Olympic semifinals that year sporting a perfect 4-0-0 record.

"The team was flawless," recalls Gretzky, now Team Canada's executive director. "At that time, as a player, I was thinking it was going to be impossible for this team to lose. The system it was playing and the preparation from the coaching staff had for the team, the way our goaltender (Patrick Roy) was playing, you didn't think you were going to get beat.

"That was the biggest surprising loss I've been involved with. It was difficult to swallow because at that point the team was tremendous."

Canada has played the Czechs since then, skating to a 2-2 round-robin tie in Salt Lake City, but Saturday's World Cup semifinal 6:30 p.m. EDT is the first knockout game between the two in a best-on-best tournament since '98, not counting the yearly battles at the IIHF men's world championship.

The '98 loss still stings despite Canada's Olympic victory in 2002.

First, because it was Gretzky's last game in a Canadian jersey. And second, because no matter what happened in Salt Lake, it was the Czechs and not Canada that won the first Olympic gold medal up for grabs with NHL players stocking the rosters.

Canada's failure in Nagano triggered a national outcry and ultimately the Open Ice Summit in the summer of '98, examining what was wrong with the national pastime.

Olympic gold in 2002 and back-to-back IIHF world titles in 2003 and 2004 have restored Canada's place atop the hockey world, but Saturday's World Cup semifinal sets up eerily like the '98 Olympic semifinal.


posted on Sep, 10 2004 @ 05:05 PM
Vengeance will be ours!!!! HA HA HA

posted on Sep, 10 2004 @ 05:52 PM
I read that article too, or a similar one. The difference is we have Martin Brodeur in net and Jose Theodore as a backup goalie.

Nothing like revenge to motivate the Sakic, Lemiuex and Iginla line. :approve: Canadians look invincible, but Kiprisoff from Finland is looking very good to. To give you an idea of how good Canada are, consider this: Yzerman was cut from the national team.

Canada - Finland ---------> Final

posted on Sep, 10 2004 @ 08:37 PM
Finland 2 - 1 United States

Man of the match, no contest here; obviously goes to Kiprisoff. Kiprosoff should have had a shut out were it not for a finish defenseman letting the puck slip through straight to a US offenceman. A very physical game, not much talent shown; except the goaltending by Kiprisoff. Newnamen could have made it 4 for Finland where on one play he made one to many moves and was knocked off balance in front of goal, and on another play where he shot the puck wide of the empty net in the dying moments of the third period.

Overall a great game, it kept me on my toes throughout. Were it not for the players diving in front of goal, it would have made for a better hockey game. Yet defence was stapled on every players forehead as it was shown throughout the whole game.


posted on Sep, 12 2004 @ 08:50 AM
Vengeance IS ours!!! Canada defeats the Czech Republic 4-3 in overtime. Vincent Lecavalier scoring the winner at 3:45 of the first overtime period. Roberto Luongo played great last night as Canada was outshot 40-24. Especially in the overtime period stopping 5 shots. The save he made on Martin Rucinsky before the game winning goal was awesome. The line of Kris Draper, Shane Doan, and Joe Thornton, or DDT line, gave the Jagr line fits all night, with Jagr only getting three shots on net. The 3 stars of the game were Vincent Lecavalier, Roberto Luongo, and Patrik Elias. Canada's goals were scored by Eric Brewer, Mario Lemieux, Kris Draper, and Vinnie Lecavalier. Petr Cajanek, Martin Havlat, and Patrik Elias scored for the Czech's.

Bring on the Finns.

[Edited on 9/12/2004 by Karlsberg]


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