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Sunday, 24 February, 2002, 22:05 GMT

Canada clinch ice hockey triumph

Canada 5-2 United States

Canada defeated the United States to win their first Olympic men's ice hockey gold medal for 50 years.

They came from behind to secure victory over the hosts in the last event of the 2002 Games.

Joe Sakic rounded off an emphatic win, and a fine personal display which included two assists, with his second goal as time ran out.

Jarome Iginla also netted twice for Canada with Paul Kariya their other scorer.

Tony Amonte and Brian Rafalski were on the mark for the US.

Russia had already claimed the bronze medal, with a victory over Belarus.

Canada last won gold 50 years ago to the day in 1952, and members of that victorious Edmonton Mercurys team watched the final at the E Center in Salt Lake City.

And Canadian broadcaster CBC predicted the match would draw the largest TV audience for any event in the nation's history.

The hockey-crazy Canadians are back on top of the world thanks to a team built by Wayne Gretzky.

After weathering intense criticism early in the tournament, the side won their final three games to silence the critics.

Just eight months after leading the Colorado Avalanche to another Stanley Cup championship in the National Hockey League, Sakic was named the tournament's most valuable player.

Canada never trailed after he set up Jarome Iginla's goal with 87 seconds left in the opening period.

The United States, bidding for their first gold medal in the sport since beating Russia in the "Miracle on Ice" in 1980, tied it with four and a half minutes to go in the second, but Sakic again came through.

With the Canadians on the power play, he snapped a wrist shot from the left circle through traffic and past goaltender Mike Richter for his third goal of the tournament.

Sakic also picked up an assist on Iginla's insurance goal 16:01 into the final period and sent Canada into delirium with 80 seconds remaining when he beat Richter on a breakaway.


Scorers:

Canada - Paul Kariya (14:50), Jarome Iginla (18:33, 56:01), Joe Sakic (38:19, 58:40).

US - Tony Amonte (8:49), Brian Rafalski (35:30)


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