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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

Team USA and the 1991 Canada Cup: a milestone moment

Updated: Apr 20

From the 1960s to the mid 1990s, the American men's national hockey team was considered an also ran on the international stage. Canada, the Soviet Union/Russia, and even Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic and Sweden were the big players on the international stage. The 1980 Miracle on Ice at the Olympics aside, the last time the United States even earned a medal at the World Championships was a bronze in 1962. Between the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympic gold and the Miracle on Ice, their best finish was a silver in 1972. At the world juniors, it was two bronze medals (1986 and 1992). The US faired slightly better at the Canada Cup, twice finishing as a semi-finalist (1981 and 1984).

The 1991 Canada Cup represented a major milestone in the United States' evolution towards becoming a hockey power. In the round robin the States finished tied for first with Canada with eight points, winning four out of five games. They then stomped Finland 7-3 in the semi-finals before dropping the best of three final to Canada in two games, by scores of 4-1 and 4-2.

At the 1996 World Cup the United States kept up the momentum, winning all three round robin games with a +11 goal differential. They defeated Russia in the semi-finals, then after losing the first game of best of three finals versus Canada, won back-to-back games in Montreal by the same 5-2 score to win the first ever World Cup of Hockey. Mike Richter was named best goalie and tournament MVP, with Chris Chelios, Brett Hull (leading scorer of the tournament) and John LeClair (second leading scorer) being named to the tournament all-star team. Eight members of the 1991 team returned to be on the victorious 1996 team. The finals was some of the best hockey of the 1990s, I recommend watching the highlights: Game 1, Game 2 and Game 3.

Since the 1996 World Cup of Hockey the United States has won six medals at the World Championships (all bronze), 13 world juniors medals (six gold, two silver and five bronze) and two Olympic silvers.

508 - Tony Granato

Granato first represented the United States at the 1983 and 1984 world juniors, leading the team in goal scoring with four goals at 1983 tournament. While still playing college hockey, Granato played in three consecutive World Championships (1985 - 1987), scoring nine points in eight games at the 1986 tournament.

Like many American college players in the 1980s and 1990s, he played for the US National Team, scoring 40 goals and 71 points in 59 games while preparing to play in the 1988 Olympics. Granato finished second in team scoring with nine points in eight games with Team USA finishing a disappointing seventh.

The 1991 Canada Cup would be his final playing appearance with Team USA, scoring three points. Granato would represent his country as an assistant coach at the 2014 Olympics (US finished fourth) and as head coach in 2018 (seventh).

509 - Eric Weinrich

Weinrich, who grew up in a small town in Maine, first represented the United States at the 1985 and 1986 world juniors, winning bronze at the 1986 tournament. After graduating from the University of Maine, like the previously featured Tony Granato, Weinrich joined the US National Team for 1987-88, playing in three games at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary.

He twice represented the US in 1991, playing in both the World Championships and the Canada Cup. Weinrich would become a staple for the Americans at the Worlds, playing in eight tournaments between 1992 and 2004. During this time he won a bronze at the 2004 tournament, captained the team in 1998 and was an assistant captain in 2000, 2001, 2002 & 2004. Weinrich’s final international appearance came in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, with the US finishing fourth,

510 - Gary Suter

Suter, a defenceman whose family name is legendary in Wisconsin (his older brother Bob was part of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team), began representing the USA at the 1984 and 1985 world juniors. He graduated to the senior team, with appearances at the 1987 and 1991 Canada Cups, scoring four points in the 1991 tournament.

Suter would captain the 1992 World Championship team for the United States to a seventh place finish. He was part of the 1996 World Cup of Hockey team that upset Canada in a three game final to win gold, then earned a silver medal at the 2002 Olympics. Suter also represented the US at the 1998 Olympics, but he is best remembered for an event that occurred outside of the games: a vicious cross-check to Canada’s Paul Kariya during a NHL game that knocked Kariya out of the Olympics. During the 1991 Canada Cup Suter delivered an equally dirty hit-from-behind to Wayne Gretzky. In spite of this questionable play, and maybe as a result, Suter is a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

511 - Kevin Hatcher

One of the hockey playing brothers from Michigan (along with Derian), Kevin debuted for the United States at the 1984 world juniors, scoring one goal in seven games. He also played in two Canada Cups (1987 and 1991), recording four assists in five games at the latter tournament.

Hatcher played a key role in the 1996 World Cup team, contributing three assists for the victorious Americans. He was also part of the infamous 1998 Olympic team, accused of trashing their athletes’ village rooms after losing to the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals.

512 - Craig Janney

A slick centre from Hartford, Janney led the United States in scoring with four goals and six points at the 1985 world juniors. Team success followed at the 1986 tournament, winning bronze. Janney graduated to the senior men’s team the same year, scoring one goal at the 1986 World Championships.

Like Granato and Weinrich, Janney joined the US National Team for the 1987-88 season, scoring 70 points in 52 games, then adding three goals and six points in five games at the 1988 Calgary Olympic Games. At the 1991 World Cup he scored four goals and six points in eight games, and in his final appearance with Team USA at the 1994 World Championship he led the team in scoring with two goals and seven points. Like Suter, Janney is a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

513 - Darren Turcotte

Born in Boston, but raised primarily in North Bay, Ontario, Turcotte chose to represent his country of birth in international hockey. At the 1987 world juniors he led the team in scoring with six goals and 10 points, as the USA finished fourth. Turcotte would return as part of the 1988 juniors team, scoring two goals and four points.

The 1991 Canada Cup would be the one and only time Turcotte represented the USA at the senior level, scoring two goals and three points in six games. He returned to international hockey in 2017 as coach of Canada’s women’s world under-18 team, winning bronze.

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