If Canada had won no other medals during the Vancouver Olympics, a large portion of the country still would have been satisfied, since the country swept the golds in hockey. On Feb. 25, the Canadian women, behind the brilliant goaltending of Shannon Szabados, and two goals from the youngest member of the team, Marie-Philip Poulin, 18, blanked the American women 2-0. The team’s spontaneous postgame celebration, in which several players returned to the ice to sip some champagne, chug a few Molsons and smoke cigars, caused a minor controversy. A few IOC suits disapproved. For the most part, however, the women were forgiven for having a little fun. (Read “Will the Olympics Drop Women’s Hockey?”)
And on the last day of the Games, the Canadian men’s hockey team gave its euphoric fans the ultimate Olympic gift, a 3-2 overtime victory over a plucky American team that had beaten Canada in a preliminary-round game. Trailing 2-1 with 24.4 seconds left, Zach Parise of the U.S. punched a last-ditch shot by Canadian goalie Roberto Luongo to send it to overtime. But in the extra session, Jarome Iginla shoveled a slick pass to Sidney Crosby, already the brightest light in the NHL, who flicked the puck through the legs of American Ryan Miller to send a country into ecstasy. Given the stakes and the setting on Canadian soil, it was certainly one of the best hockey games ever. Here’s what’s undeniable: it was the perfect ending to a Games that was far from perfect.