Ice Hockey: Crosby delivers on the dream

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The Independent Online

For weeks Sidney Crosby had been carrying the weight of speculation that he may be Canada's greatest ever ice hockey player. He is not that, at least not yet at the age of 22, but the big man from a little harbour town in Nova Scotia can certainly now accept an interim award.

It is from a nation obsessed with ice hockey that has never owed so much to one man deep into the overtime of an Olympic final here last night.

Until then Crosby had not had a great tournament, not by any means but when it mattered most, seven minutes 40 seconds into sudden death overtime, he produced a vein of pure class to deliver a 3-2 victory over the United States and a record-breaking 14th gold medal, carrying them past the previous mark of 13 set by the Soviet Union in Innsbruck in 1976 and Norway in Salt Lake City eight years ago.

It is an extraordinary achievement given the pressure that weighed down on the shoulders of the nation's athletes as they appeared to be wilting under the expectation, and for a terrible time last night it seemed that it might be wiped away. Had it happened it would have been American hockey's second miracle on ice. The first came in Lake Placid 30 years ago when a bunch of college kids overcame the mighty Soviet Union on the way to a gold medal.

Last night the achievement was as potentially dramatic when with just 24.4 seconds left in the third period American forward Zach Parise squeezed in an equaliser which stunned Canada from here on the Pacific all the way to the Atlantic coast.

In Nova Scotia there might have been some mild disappointment that the native son Crosby had had little part in an apparently relentless surge to the gold medal with goals from Jonathan Toews and Corey Perry.

As it was though Crosby was merely biding his historic time.

Ryan Kesler brought the Americans back into the game in the second period and then it was mostly attrition. The forechecking of both sides became furious and there were moments when the tension came close to the point of explosion.

Canada, who had been living with huge pressure since they lost a group game to America at the end of the first week, were facing something that would have come close to a national nightmare. In the end though they were rescued by the youngster in whom they had believed so much and what indeed might be the start of a legend.