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World Cup

1996 U.S. World Cup team focus of NHL Network special

Documentary will detail best-of-3 championship-round win against Canada

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NHL Tonight: Team USA on '96 win

Team USA reflects on '96 World Cup of Hockey win

Watch current Team USA members reflect on the 1996 World Cup and a sneak peek at "Orchestrating an Upset: The 1996 World Cup of Hockey"

  • 08:13 •

"Orchestrating An Upset: The 1996 World Cup of Hockey," a documentary detailing the United States' best-of-3 championship-round victory against Canada 20 years ago, will premiere on NHL Network at 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

The episode is the first in a new documentary series, NHL Network Originals.

From that 1996 U.S. World Cup team, 16 players plus assistant coach John Cunniff and general manager Lou Lamoriello have been inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. The team as a whole will be enshrined as part of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2016 on Nov. 30 in Philadelphia.

Prior to the 1996 World Cup, the previous time the U.S. had won a best-on-best tournament was at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics.

Video: Orchestrating An Upset: The 1996 World Cup of Hockey

"It was the pinnacle of my career," U.S. forward Tony Amonte told NHL.com in 2009. "Being able to win that game in Montreal in Canada's backyard with all the hype surrounding that tournament, it was really an unbelievable experience. I watched the Canada Cup a few years before and I dreamt about playing in it, so it was great to be on a team with all those guys."

The United States and Canada joined Russia and Slovakia in a North American pool, with games in New York, Philadelphia, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver. Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and Germany formed a European pool, which played games in Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; Prague, Czech Republic; and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The top three teams in each group advanced to the quarterfinals, which were played in North America.

The United States and Sweden swept its group, with the U.S. defeating Canada and Russia in back-to-back games, to earn a bye into the semifinals. In the quarterfinals, Russia beat Finland 5-0 and Canada beat Germany 4-1. Canada beat Sweden 3-2 in double-overtime in the first semifinal, and the U.S. beat Russia 5-2 in the second semifinal.

That set up the championship round between North American rivals.

Canada had dominated the United States for 20 years, going 12-0-2 during that span and sweeping the two-game final of the Canada Cup in 1991, before the U.S. won in the 1996 World Cup preliminary round. It looked like Canada's dominance would resume when Steve Yzerman scored in overtime for a 4-3 Canada defeat of the U.S. in the first game of the best-of-3 final at CoreStates Center (now Wells Fargo Center) in Philadelphia on Sept. 10.

The United States then won back-to-back games, each 5-2, at Molson Centre (now Bell Centre) in Montreal. Game 3 featured a 35-save performance by 2008 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Mike Richter, who held the fort while the U.S. rallied from a 2-1 third-period deficit.

Brett Hull, a U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee in 2008, scored the tying goal off a tip with 3:18 left in the third period, and then Amonte, a 2009 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, scored the eventual winner 43 seconds later.

"I can recollect it like it was yesterday," Amonte said. "I was playing on a line with Bryan Smolinski and John Leclair, and it just seemed like we were getting a ton of offensive chances the whole game. We were really creating a lot of stuff and I think it just came off a forecheck. The puck went back to Derian Hatcher and I was kind of skating through the slot when the puck hit something down there. I just wasn't sure if it was stick or skate. But who cares? It ended up in the net and gave us the lead."

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