Host City: Vancouver, Canada
Venue(s): Canada Hockey Place, Vancouver; UBC Thunderbird Arena, University Endowment Lands
Date Started: February 16, 2010
Date Finished: February 28, 2010
Format: Round-robin pools, followed by single-elimination matches.
Prior to the 2010 Olympic men's ice hockey tournament, Russia, Canada, Sweden, Finland, and the United States were the top five ranked teams in the world, with Russia sitting as the defending World Champion and Sweden in the same spot for the Olympic Games. Canada, naturally, had high expectations for its players on home ice, but they preformed poorly in Group A, despite their opening 8-0 shutout of Norway. First they were dragged into a shootout against #7 ranked Switzerland, which they won only with a goal from Sidney Crosby in his second attempt, and then they were outdone 3-5 against the United States, who went undefeated in the preliminary round. Group B was captured by Russia, despite a surprising shootout loss against #9 ranked Slovakia, and an undefeated Sweden. Finland, from Group C, rounded out the automatic qualifiers.
Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Canada, and Slovakia all survived the qualification playoffs, with one of the tournament's most troublesome moments coming in the Slovakia vs. Norway match. Norway's Ole Kristian Tollefsen received a game misconduct for a vicious hit on Slovakian Ľuboš Bartečko, which left the latter bleeding profusely on the ice after being hit in the head. The quarterfinals were full of surprises too. In the U.S. vs. Switzerland game, the Swiss held the Americans to two scoreless periods, and nearly had the advantage with an apparent goal at the buzzer of the second period (instant replays later showed that it had crossed the line only after the clock has expired). Canada trounced Russia 7-3 and Slovakia pushed Sweden out of medal contention with a 4-3 victory, allowing them to join Finland in the final four. The U.S. scored six goals against Finland in the first 13 minutes, assuring them a spot on the podium, and Slovakia nearly pulled off the ultimate upset by falling to Canada with a score of just 3-2.
In the bronze medal game, Slovakia fought hard against Finland, and managed to keep their opponents to just one goal, while scoring three of their own, by the end of the second period. Finland battled back, however, and scored four unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes, leaving them with an undefeated (3-0) record in Olympic bronze medal finals, repeating their feats from the 1994 and 1998 Winter Games. The final match between the United States and Canada was a tense one, with Canada leading at the end of the second period by only one point in a 2-1 match. The third period was nearly scoreless, but the Americans played with an empty net for the final minute of the game, allowing Zach Parise to tie up the match with less than 30 seconds to go. In both countries, hockey fans sat on the edges of their seat for another 7 minutes and 40 seconds before Canada's Crosby slammed the puck into the net, giving Canada it's Olympic record-setting fourteenth gold medal of the 2010 Winter Olympics, which broke the record of 13 set by the Soviet Union in 1976 and equaled by Norway in 2002. Canadians, the majority of which had been glued to the TV screen during the final, poured into the streets to celebrate their victory and chaotic (but controlled) festivities erupted nation wide. In Toronto, the largest city in the nation, people in the streets stopped traffic and made getting anywhere difficult, while all across the country the citizens belted out the national anthem. Pavol Demitra of Slovakia was the tournament's top scorer with 10 points, and Jarome Iginla's five goals, aided by his hat trick against Norway in the opening round, set the standard for the men (the only other hat trick scorer was Norway's Tore Vikingstad in a 4-5 overtime loss against Switzerland).