The 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics will be remembered as a confirmation that hockey is Canada’s game—a core symbol of what defines us as a country.

On the final day of competition, 12.6 million Canadians watched on television as the Canadian men’s hockey team captured Canada’s first ice hockey gold medal in fifty years with a 5-2 victory over the United States.

British Columbia was well represented in the march to Olympic gold. Paul Kariya, Eric Brewer, Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman, Scott Niedermayer, head coach Pat Quinn, technical advisor Steve Tambellini, team leaders Bob Nicholson and Johnny Misley, and press attache Brad Pascall all shared in the glory of one of the country’s most anticipated and celebrated international sports triumphs in recent years.

The Olympic hockey tournament was full of emotional highs and lows for the Canadian squad. The team started slowly, losing 5-2 to Sweden and barely edging Germany 3-2. After the third game, a 3-3 tie against the Czechs, Canadian general manager Wayne Gretzky tried to deflect some pressure from the team. In an emotional press conference, Gretzky said the world wanted Canada to fail.

The “us versus the world” declaration seemed to pull the team together. Victories over Finland and upstart Belarus put Canada into the gold medal game against the Americans. The Canadians dominated the action, but the game remained in doubt until late in the final period.

“One of my most vivid memories of the Olympics is when the fans were singing the Canadian national anthem during the last minute of the game,” recalled Pascall, who as the press attache managed hundreds of media requests during the tournament.

“Hockey is truly a passion for Canadians—especially when Canada is represented on the international stage.”

When the game finally ended there was a spontaneous celebration around the country. In cities across Canada people partied in the streets. Normally reserved citizens belted out ‘Oh Canada’ with unbridled enthusiasm.

The victory was another defining moment in Canada’s collective hockey experience.

Team Members:
Eric Brewer, Paul Kariya, Johnny Misley (team leaders), Bob Nicholson (team leader), Scott Niedermayer, Brad Pascall (press attaché), Pat Quinn (head coach), Joe Sakic, Steve Tambellini (technical advisor), Steve Yzerman.