Canada’s Women Win Third Olympic Gold Medal Over Team USA
Written By: Mark “The Hard Hitter” Ritter
Heading into this game, there had been a lot of debate as to whether or not women’s hockey should remain a part of the Olympic Games.
I will admit, watching Canada and the United States embarrass their opponents in the preliminary and semifinal rounds did nothing for me.
But I managed to put all that behind me tonight, choosing instead to look at the positives—like the game between Canada and the United States this evening, a game that was sure to be a barnburner.
Canada has won the Olympic gold medal game twice, taking home the prized medal in Salt Lake City (2002) and Turin (2006)—something that undoubtedly burns the Americans to no end.
Admittedly, the women’s game does not possess the skills and speed that the men’s game does, but they do share a common thread: passion.
So with pride of country and bragging rights on the line, Canada and the United States took to the ice in Vancouver. Game on!
Canada scored the first goal when 18-year-old Marie-Philip Poulin—a player who has been compared to Sidney Crosby in the past—took a shot from just beyond the face-off circle that eluded American goalie Jesse Vetter, making it 1-0 Canada.
For Poulin, it was her fourth goal of the tournament; for Canada, an Olympic record for goals scored at 47—a tremendous accomplishment regardless of the competition, or lack thereof.
Canada went up by a pair of goals when Poulin beat Vetter for the second time in the game—a quick shot that found the back of the net in a hurry. The goals came just less than three minutes apart—and with them, a ton of momentum for the Canadian squad.
At the other end, Canadian goaltender Shannon Szabados was solid in net, stopping the Americans from in close on several occasions. Her efforts allowed the Canadians to leave the ice up 2-0 after one period of play—a solid period all the way around.
The first period belonged to Canada, which scored two goals and were able to stop the Americans on their five-on-three power play opportunity. If you are a fan of Canada, things were looking pretty good in the early goings.
Canada took its fourth penalty of the game early in the second period. Moments into the penalty, Canada was penalized again, creating Team USA’s second five-on-three situation.
Despite being ranked No. 1 on the power play in the tournament coming into the match against Canada, the Americans were unable to beat the Canadian squad. Team USA established constant pressure down low, but Canada stood tall—which must have deflated the Americans.
Shortly after dismissing the American power play, Canada’s Jayna Hefford missed a glorious opportunity to put Canada ahead by three when she failed to make contact with the puck in front of a wide-open American net.
Canada and the United States exchanged power play opportunities late in the second period, but neither side was able to capitalize.
The United States outshot the Canadians 13-10 in the period, but Canada was able to weather the storm, holding on to its 2-0 lead and putting the team in great position to pull out a victory.
The third period started off with Canada establishing pressure in the American zone early and often. The Americans tried their best to counterattack, but they were often derailed in the neutral zone.
Szabados put her great glove hand on display on more than a few occasions, thwarting Team USA’s efforts to get on the scoreboard.
As the period went on, the Americans increased their pressure on Canada, winning the battles along the boards—and in the process, creating a number of scoring chances. Once again, Szabados stood tall, making the key saves and making them look easy.
Despite a solid effort by the Americans throughout the third period—quite possibly their best of the game—it was simply not to be on this night. Team USA desperately tried to get the extra attack onto the ice, but it was unable to do so as Canada kept the Americans pinned in their own zone for much of the last two minutes of the game.
On this night, Canada would not be beaten, as it won its fourth-consecutive Olympic gold medal in women’s hockey, solidifying its Olympic dominance and sending a message to the ladies in red, white, and blue: The next time Canada’s ladies are practicing in a parking garage, don’t interrupt! (Those who follow women’s hockey know what I am talking about).
My three stars of the game:
Shannon Szabados— goaltender, Canada— shut out victory!
Marie-Philip Poulin— forward, Canada— two goals.
Jayna Hefford— great leadership and drive tonight.
Overall, it was a solid effort from both teams, but there can only be one winner: Canada!