Today in Olympic History - February 14

by Wendy Graves

1988 – CANADA 1, POLAND 0
In Canada’s first Olympic game ever on home soil, the team narrowly defeated Poland 1-0.

Marc Habscheid scored the only goal of the game four minutes into the first period. Gord Sherven and Trent Yawney picked up the assists.

Canada outshot Poland 29-17, and Andy Moog earned the win in his Olympic debut.

Those watching the Games expected Canada would dominate Poland – it had won the previous six Olympic meetings by a combined score of 58-2 – but recent history told the players otherwise. The teams had played a pair of exhibition games in Poland two years earlier, with Canada winning one and the other ending in a tie.

“We understood that it wasn’t going to be a walkover, but unfortunately that’s not what the press and the expectations were from the general public,” says Sherven. “We knew that it would be a relatively tight game.”

Poland’s game plan was all about defense. “They played five men back,” remembers Sherven. “They would block the line with men across and the D moving into the zone. A lot of time we were forced to dump and chase.”

This led to the first – and only – goal of the game.

Polish goalie, Gabriel Samolei – the team’s backup tender – misplayed the puck behind the net. Sherven beat the defenseman to the play, picked up the puck before Samolei could retreat to his crease and fed Habscheid out front.

“I heard [Habscheid] yell and I knew the goalie was out of position,” says Sherven. “I just backhanded it in front and he had a wide open net.”

Sherven says the players knew how special it was to be a part of Canada’s first Olympic hockey game on home soil. He can still see his friend’s dad – a normally reserved man – crawling up the glass of the Saddledome to wish him luck. “That’s what I remember, how people reacted.”

OTHER GAMES

1936 – Canada recorded its third of four shutouts in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, defeating the United States 1-0 and improving its record to 6-1.

1980 – Canada got goals from five different players – Stelio Zupanich, Tim Watters, Ken Berry, John Devaney and Kevin Primeau – and defeated Poland 5-1. Neither team took a penalty in the game.

1992 – Canada scored three of its team-record nine power play goals of the tournament as it defeated Czechoslovakia 5-1. Joe Juneau and Dave Archibald led the way with an even strength and power play goal each.

1998 – Rob Blake capped off a three-goal second period for Canada, scoring with only seven seconds left in the middle frame as the team defeated Sweden 3-2. Joe Nieuwendyk had a goal and two assists in the victory.

1998 – Lori Dupuis, Jayna Hefford and Thérèse Brisson scored in the opening six minutes of the third period to give Canada a 4-1 lead over the United States. However, the Americans responded with six unanswered goals to win the preliminary round finale, 7-4.

2006 – Canada outshot Sweden 47-8 and wrapped up first place in its group with an 8-1 win. Gillian Apps netted a hat trick, Danielle Goyette scored twice and Hayley Wickenheiser added a goal and two assists to lead the Canadian offense.

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