Canada's first Olympic men's hockey gold medal triumph in 50 years drew the highest audience in Canadian television history.

A record 8,662,000 viewers tuned in to CBC-TV to watch Team Canada defeat Team USA 5-2 on the final day of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City on Sunday.

"We were thrilled to have been able to bring this dramatic game to fans across the country," said Nancy Lee, the executive director of CBC Sports

A peak audience of close to 10.5 million Canadians tuned in to watch the medal ceremony after the game.

Since Nielsen Media Research introduced "people meters" in 1989, yesterday's gold medal hockey game ranks as the most watched television show in Canadian history followed by Game 6 of the 1992 World Series at 6,717,000 viewers and the 1998 Academy Awards at 6,605,000 viewers.

The overall prime-time audience for CBC coverage of the 2002 Winter Olympics was 2,287,000 -- 27 per cent higher than Nagano (1,796,000).

The total average was 1.5 million viewers -- 32 per cent higher than in Nagano (1,136,000).