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Stars shine bright in gold medal classic

02/28/2010, 1:45pm EST
By Harry Thompson - USA Hockey Magazine

Ron Wilson said it once and then he said it again. Big-time players shine in big games.

And nobody in the game today is a bigger star than Sidney Crosby. The 22-year-old superstar added an Olympic gold medal to his trophy case that includes a World Junior Championship and Stanley Cup ring, by scoring a bad angle shot that snuck through the pads of Ryan Miller to give Canada a 3-2 victory in overtime against a resilient U.S. team.

“A great player made a great play and found a way to finish us off tonight,” said Wilson, the U.S. head coach.

Team USA's Zach Parise proved his star status with a gutsy goal to send the game to overtime.
Photos from the game

“I think both teams are winners, but more importantly I think tonight the game of hockey is the real winner.”

The victory gives Canada its eighth gold medal in Olympic hockey, and the Canadians became the first host country to win gold since the United States did it in Lake Placid in 1980.

Before Crosby had his chance to shine, it was Zach Parise who stole the spotlight with 24.4 seconds left in regulation, scoring the tying goal to send the game into an extra session.

“This was a great hockey game, just like last Sunday’s game was,” Wilson said. “This game was played exactly how the game was meant to be played.”

With the U.S. losing 2-1, Wilson pulled the goaltender for an extra attacker. Joe Pavelski took a high shot that that Canadian goaltender Roberto Luongo couldn’t handle. The puck came out to Patrick Kane, whose wrist shot deflected off the heal of Jamie Langenbrunner’s skate and Parise was there to poke home the rebound to silence the capacity crowd of 17,748.

“We were confident going into overtime that we were going to win,” said Parise, who finished the tournament with eight points (four goals, four assists).

“It just didn’t happen today.”

For the second straight game Canada jumped out to an early lead on goals from Jonathan Toews and Corey Perry.

The inexperience of the U.S. Team that was talked about throughout the tournament finally reared its baby-faced chin on Sunday as they faced the veteran Canadian team with tons of big game experience.

At times they looked out of synch, especially on early power plays, but they fought hard and eventually settled down, thanks in large part to Miller, who finished with 36 saves and the tournament MVP award.

“We came here with the intent of winning and fell short today,” said Miller.

Ryan Kesler got the U.S. on the board in the second period as he deflected a Patrick Kane wrist shot past Luongo. The teams traded chances in the third period, but  Miller came up big on a partial breakaway to Crosby as Kane was breathing down his neck.

“I don’t think I’ve ever backchecked that hard,” said Kane, who was at his dynamic best with the puck, setting up both U.S. goals.

It was the first gold-medal to reach overtime since Sweden beat Canada in 1994 on a shootout goal by Peter Forsberg. And much like the super Swede, Crosby may eventually find his likeness on a postage stamp.

“I just shot it and maybe it went five hole,” said Crosby, who last season became the youngest captain to lead a team to the Stanley Cup.

“It doesn’t feel real. It feels like a dream.”

Harry Thompson is the editor of USA Hockey Magazine and will be covering the Olympic hockey tournaments for www.USAHockey.com. You can also check out his Olympic blog and Twitter posts at www.USAHockeyMagazine.com.

Tag(s): 2010 - Vancouver, BC