Iginla scored three as Team Canada romps to 8-0 victory over Norway
VANCOUVER (CP) — Team Canada delivered a crowd-pleasing performance after stepping on to the biggest stage in international hockey.
Hometown hero Roberto Luongo stopped all 15 shots he faced and Canada showed off a variety of offensive weapons Tuesday, kicking off the long-awaited Olympic tournament with an 8-0 victory over Norway at Canada Hockey Place, better known as GM Place when the Olympics are not in town.
Jarome Iginla had a hat trick, Dany Heatley scored twice while Mike Richards, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry each added singles for a young Canadian team that looked fairly composed after skating into the spotlight for the first time.
The anticipation had been building for Canadian hockey fans since the country crashed out of the Turin Olympics four years ago with a disastrous seventh-place finish, the worst-ever in history. It was worth the wait.
Even though the roof didn’t come off Canada Hockey Place, as Norwegian captain Tommy Jakobsen predicted it might, the crowd roared throughout the game and alternated between chants of “Go Canada Go!” and “Let’s Go Canada!”
The majority of fans showed up in Team Canada jerseys, painting the inside of the arena a patriotic red and white.
“There was much more electricity (than normal). This is big for Canada,” said Luongo.
It was a marvellous platform for Canadian hockey — even though the Norwegians didn’t play the part of willing victim early on. The underdogs showed plenty of pluck in the first period, clogging the neutral zone and collapsing around goalie Pal Grotnes to keep Canada from scoring.
Grotnes, a part-time carpenter in his homeland, made a big glove save on Sidney Crosby late in the first period to keep the score 0-0 through 20 minutes.
The Canadian team only had one practice together as a group and featured 15 players skating in their first ever Olympic game, so a little sloppiness was to be expected. The attack started looking more organized in the second period and the Canadians were quick to pour it on.
Iginla opened the scoring at 2:30 by onetiming a pass from Crosby behind a screened Grotnes, touching off an energetic celebration from a stadium that was starting to get a bit edgy. Less than two minutes later, Heatley tipped home a Pronger shot before Richards made it 3-0 by whacking the puck through the legs of the besieged Norwegian goalie at 11:06.
Luongo wasn’t very busy at the other end, but looked sharp when needed. The Vancouver Canucks goalie was serenaded with chants of “Luuuuu!” after almost every save and managed to keep Norway off the scoreboard during a five-on-three that lasted 48 seconds in the middle period.
The party truly started when the puck was dropped at the beginning of the third period.
Getzlaf chased Grotnes after scoring at 4:29, chasing Grotnes from the goal, before Heatley scored his second of the night with a wicked shot that beat backup Andre Lysenstoen high at 6:43. Further goals by Iginla and Perry had fans dancing in the aisles, many no doubt hoping that this Olympic tournament might end up with a golden moment for the home team.