Host City: Salt Lake City, United States
Venue(s): E Center, Salt Lake City, Utah; The Peaks Ice Arena, Provo, Utah
Date Started: February 9, 2002
Date Finished: February 24, 2002
Format: Round-robin pools, followed by classification rounds, and single-elimination matches. Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden, and United States directly qualified for preliminary round.
The format for the tournament was the same as in 1998, with Canada, the United States, Russia, Sweden, Finland, and the Czech Republic seeded into the medal pools, to be joined by the winners of two preliminary pools. Again, the NHL suspended their schedule during the Winter Olympics, so that all the best players in the world could compete. Although many Europeans now played in the NHL, Canada and the United States still provided the bulk of the players in the world’s best ice hockey league. Since they could now use their best players, they were considered the favorites. Canada had last won a gold medal in ice hockey in 1952, and the United States had won only the two upsets of 1960 and 1980. But both of those were on home ice, and with the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the Americans were optimistic.
Canada easily won their semi-final match, 7-1, against Belarus. The other semi-final saw the United States defeat Russia, 3-2, in one of the most exciting Olympic games ever played. In the final, the USA scored first, on a breakaway goal by Tony Amonte. But Canada pulled ahead to lead, 3-2, entering the third period. Canada extended the lead in the final period to win, 5-2, and win their first gold medal in 50 years. They were led by Joe Sakic and Jarome Iginla, who each scored two goals in the final game.