The Canada Cup tournament was resurrected in 1996 as the World Cup of Hockey and was run by the NHL and the NHLPA. The name change was not the only noticeable difference. Eight countries instead of six were now invited. Germany and the newly separated countries of Slovakia and the Czech Republic joined Sweden, Finland, Russia, the United States and Canada in the unofficial world championship. Other changes included round robin games to be played in both North America and Europe and a stylish new trophy.
Though Russia, Sweden and even Finland had strong tournaments, in the end it was an all North American final between Canada and the United States, thanks largely to the superior goaltending of each nation.
Canada took game one of the best of three final 4-3 in overtime. The game was cautiously and evenly played. The Canadian line of Steve Yzerman, Rod Brind’Amour and Theoren Fleury was strong throughout the game, and clinched the victory with Yzerman’s goal half way through the extra frame.
United States goaltender Mike Richter was simply spectacular in game two, particularly in the third period. The Americans held a slim 3-1 lead heading into the third period. Canada erupted out of the gates, peppering Richter with 18 shots in the third period alone, but could only get one shot past him. The U.S. added two empty net goals to capture a 5-2 win and force a third game.
Richter continued his amazing show in the deciding game. Canada outshot the USA team 37-25. The Canadians had 22 shots in the second period alone, but Richter carried Team USA through to the third period with a 1-1 tie.
The third period saw an Adam Foote shot give Canada a 2-1 lead with less than 8 minutes to play. But instead of deflating, Team USA immediately went on the attack and found two lightning quick goals from Brett Hull and Tony Amonte. The quick goals shocked Team Canada, who also let in late goals by Derian Hatcher and Adam Deadmarsh, both of whom were stalwarts in the tournament, giving Team USA the inaugural World Cup of Hockey championship.