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Prime Minister Stephen Harper and IIHF president Rene Fasel stand with members and representatives of the IIHF's all-century team in Quebec City on Saturday. ((Francis Vachon/Canadian Press))

At a gala celebration of its 100th birthday on Saturday, the International Ice Hockey Federation named the sport's top moment and honoured a centennial all-star team that included Wayne Gretzky.

The Miracle on Ice victory by the United States at the 1980 Olympics was named the top hockey story of the past 100 years, which will surely stir debate among Canadian hockey fans.

Paul Henderson's memorable winning goal for Canada at the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union was chosen as the second-best story.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a speech and couldn't resist mentioning his choice.

"For Canadians of my generation, the 1972 Summit Series stands out above the rest," said Harper. "It was an epic battle."

The two memorable hockey sagas topped a list of the sport's top 100 moments compiled by a small group of hockey historians from the IIHF who took two years to compile the list.

Comprised of college players, the 1980 U.S. Olympic team shocked the Soviet Union to win gold on home soil in Lake Placid, N.Y.

"If we had played them 100 times, we probably would have lost 99," said Mark Johnson, who was a 21-year-old centre on that team."What happened at Lake Placid nobody thought about, nobody fascinated about, nobody dreamed about."

Henderson's famous goal was second while the Soviets' upset win in the opener of the Summit Series in Montreal was third.

Rounding out the top five moments was the world championship win by the Soviet Union in 1954, and Czechoslovakia's gold medal win at the 1972 worlds in Prague.

Gretzky scores the most votes

Gretzky was selected as the lone Canadian representative on the all-century team by the panel of 56 writers from 16 countries.

He received 38 votes, which is 35 more than anyone else, and was a unanimous selection based on his impressive international experience.

The Great One's first international event was the 1978 world junior championship and went on to represent his country at Canada Cups, the 1982 world championship, 1996 World Cup of Hockey and 1998 Olympics.

"He single-handedly altered the perception of Canadian hockey internationally," said Habs legend Jean Beliveau, introducing Gretzky. "All the other nations were scared."

Gretzky didn't attend the ceremony and had Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe accept the honour in his stead.

The all-century team included four Soviets — forwards Valeri Kharlamov and Sergei Makarov, defenceman Vyacheslav Fetisov and goalie Vladislav Tretiak. Sweden's Borje Salming rounded out the roster as the other defenceman selected.

Tretiak, Fetisov and Salming all received the honour in person. Kharlamov's son Alexander accepted the award on behalf of his father, who was killed in a car crash in 1981 while Igor Larionov represented Makarov.

Mario Lemieux and Paul Coffey were the next closest Canadians, finishing 13 votes behind Makarov and Salming respectively.

With files from the Canadian Press