'96 WORLD CUP OF HOCKEY: USA! USA!


I watched an NHL Network-produced documentary on the 1996 World Cup of Hockey: "Orchestrating an Upset."

I'm not so sure it was an upset: Canada was loaded, like always, But the United States kicked ass.

That USA victory isn't remembered with the reverence it should be.

The USA won two straight games at Montreal after losing Game 1 of the best-of-three final at Philadelphia.

The USA was down 2-1 in Game 3 but scored four times in the game's final 3:18 to secure victory. Canada, playing at home, totally capitulated.

Brett Hull's second goal of the game tied it, 2-2. Hull was Public Enemy No. 1 in Canada. He had dual citizenship but elected to play for the USA. He might as well have kidnapped the prime minister.

Mike Richter was amazing in goal for the USA: He made 35 saves in the series-deciding game, including 21 in the second period.

That USA team featured several Penguins connections:

*Defenseman Kevin Hatcher was about to start his first season in Pittsburgh.

*Forward Bryan Smolinski was coming off his lone campaign with the Penguins.

*Forward Scott Young was on the Pens' Stanley Cup winner in 1991.

*Forward Bill Guerin helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 2009 before working for the club as an executive.

We talk about 1980's "Miracle on Ice" a lot, and we should.

But winning the World Cup of Hockey in 1996 was a tremendous accomplishment for USA Hockey, second only to 1980.

Mario Lemieux sat out that one, BTW. If he plays, Canada probably wins.

Wayne Gretzky flubbed a late chance for Canada just before the USA scored an empty-net goal to make it 4-2. That made it even sweeter.

Thumbnail via Getty Images.

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