February 16, 2010

International Hockey's Greatest Moments

Here's hockey's greatest international moments by country:

Canada: Canada's come from behind victory combined with last-minute heroics in the 1972 Summit Series not only ranks as the country's greatest hockey accomplishment, but as one of the country's greatest moments ever. That series transcended hockey, representing every Canadian who witnessed it live. The generations that followed lived always knowing of it's great impact. Paul Henderson's goal with just 3 seconds left in the series gave Canada so much more than just a great hockey victory.

Honorable Mention: 1987 Canada Cup, 2002 Olympics.

United States - Much like Canada's greatest moment, America's greatest moment on ice transcended the game and provided a nation with hope and spirit. Known as the Miracle On Ice, it is the one hockey memory all Americans have. A group of underdog college kids, led by scoring hero Mike Eruzione and goalie Jim Craig, upset the mighty Soviet Union hockey team en route to capturing gold on home ice at Lake Placid in 1980.

Honorable Mention - 1996 World Cup of Hockey, 1960 Olympics

Czech Republic - The image of Dominik Hasek jumping in the air to celebrate his victory against Canada in the semi-final shootout at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano is as entrenched in the Czech hockey psyche as is Paul Henderson's image here in Canada. Two days later Hasek and the Czechs shutout their old arch rivals Russia 1-0 to capture the first ever Olympics completely open to the NHL's best players.

Slovakia: Slovakia finished in 13th place at the 2002 Olympics, mostly because their NHL players were not available for early games to qualify for the top Olympic pools. That bitter disappointment made Slovakia's victory at the World Championships just two months later all the more sweeter. They dramatically come from down 2-0 to defeat Canada 3-2 in the quarter-finals. Then they rallied against Russia in the gold medal game, opening the third period down 3-1 to win 4-3. Peter Bondra scored the greatest goal in Slovak hockey history with just 100 seconds left in the game.

NOTE - The Czech Republic and Slovakia features do not include the many years prior to the 1990s when the two formed the country of Czechoslovakia.

Finland: Finland and Sweden have a mostly friendly rivalry in virtually every aspect of Scandinavian life, similar to Canada and the United States. But that is take to a whole new level on the ice. Finland, ubiquitous also-rans, won their only top-level gold medal at the 1995 World Championships. The victory came against Sweden, and in Sweden. The Finns were powered by the "Donald Duck Line" of Saku Koivu, Ville Peltonen and Jere Lehtinen.

Sweden: While the 2006 Olympic gold medal was amazing, nothing quite tops Peter Forsberg's shootout goal over Canada at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer. The shocking goal gave Sweden the first Olympic gold medal decided by penalty shots. The moment was forever immortalized on postage stamps in Sweden.

Russia: Russia's 8-1 dismantling of Canada in the championship game of the 1981 Canada Cup marks the zenith achievement of the great Soviet hockey teams. They were the best in the world, and dismantling their arch-rivals from Canada, who dressed their best NHL pros including Gretzky, Lafleur and Dionne, proved it undeniably.

1 comment:

JeffB said...

Nice post. I liked reading your opinions on each countries best moment when compared to the ones I rated the best.