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Canadian Victory Leaves Team Giddy About Success

September 12, 1996|HELENE ELLIOTT

MONTREAL — After playing on four Stanley Cup champions and three Canada Cup-winning teams, defenseman Paul Coffey easily could be blase about being one victory from winning the World Cup of Hockey.

Yet, Coffey is as caught up in the excitement of the tournament as any rookie, replaying in his mind Wednesday each crucial moment of Canada's 4-3 overtime triumph over the United States on Tuesday in the opener of the best-of-three finals. Canada can end the series tonight at the Molson Centre, also the site of a third game Saturday, if necessary.

"There's nothing in the world that replaces winning," Coffey said. "It's such a fine line between winning and losing in situations like these. America gets a break and they win the game instead of us. We'd be sitting here heavier, tireder, our muscles hurting. Instead, we're sitting here now feeling good."

Several U.S. players said they were nervous in Game 1, overwhelmed as much by the occasion as by Canada's defense.

"I don't know if it was so much they had the edge as we didn't play as well as we did to get here," said U.S. captain Brian Leetch.

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