But Kariya already has registered for two spring semester courses at the University of Maine, which he led to the NCAA championship last year while also winning the Hobey Baker Award as the U.S.'s best college player. The courses he'll be taking? Human sexuality and Canadian studies. Had he lifted the puck higher on his last attempt in the shoot-out against Sweden and had gold-starved Canada gone on to win its first Olympic hockey championship in 42 years, Kariya surely would have become part of the latter curriculum someday.
As it happened, though, this shoot-out will be remembered favorably only in Sweden's history books. Each coach picked five players; the teams would alternately shoot penalty shots at the opposing goalie; whichever team had the most goals after five shots would be the winner. If the teams were still tied after five shots each, they would continue to alternate shooters until a winner emerged.
Canada won the coin toss and elected to shoot first. Petr Nedved, a Vancouver Canuck holdout who scored 38 goals for the NHL team last season, started the shoot-out by whipping the puck high past the left glove hand of Swedish goaltender Tommy Salo. After a miss by Sweden, Kariya copied Nedved's move and buried his shot behind Salo.
On Canada's first two shots, Salo had played deep in his crease rather than coming out to cut down the angle. Dwayne Norris, Canada's third shooter, favors the same snap shot to the glove side that paid off for Nedved and Kariya, but in this mental chess game, Norris switched to Plan B—a backhand flip to the stick side.
"We felt we should change things up," Canadian coach Tom Renney said afterward. "If Norris scores high on the other side, then we really have Salo thinking."
Maybe Canada was overthinking. Norris never got the puck airborne, and the fourth and fifth Canadian shooters didn't test Salo's glove either. Meanwhile, Sweden scored on its second (Magnus Svensson) and fourth ( Forsberg) shots against goalie Corey Hirsch. At the end of the five-shot round, the shoot-out was even.
With tension mounting, Svensson and Nedved each missed with their teams' sixth shot. Forsberg and Kariya were next.
For his attempt, Forsberg reached into his memory. When he was 15, Forsberg had watched the 1989 world championships in Stockholm on TV. He saw a move that day he would never forget, executed by Sweden's Kent Nilsson on a breakaway against John Vanbiesbrouck of the U.S. "I liked it right away," Forsberg recalled. "The goalie ended up in the stands."
Forsberg, a lefthanded shot, decided to try to re-create Nilsson's magic. He swooped to the left on his forehand, pulling Hirsch with him. Forsberg then downshifted and was almost at the goal line when he finally drew the puck to his backhand. Hirsch dropped to his knees and stretched out his glove, close enough to the dribbling puck that it seemed as if he could have stopped it with his breath. Forsberg, with only his right hand on the stick, then reached back and tapped in a backhander like a man taking a two-foot gimme.
Said Forsberg later, "I think I've tried that move three times before."