It's up to the public to knit together the funds to get an iconic hockey sweater into Canadian hands, but the federal government has hinted it might help. 

The jersey Paul Henderson was wearing when he scored the game-winning goal at the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union is now up for auction in the U.S.

Henderson originally gave the jersey away as a gift to a trainer, who sold it. The current owner put it up for sale to the highest bidder. 

Heritage Minister James Moore says the federal government doesn't buy items of historical significance like the sweater but there is a program in place that helps get important pieces of Canadiana back on home soil.

The program covers up to 50 per cent of the price paid by groups or museums and Moore says it has been used in the past to buy Victoria crosses and old flags.

With three weeks left to go in the auction, the price for the jersey is already around $144,000.