SOCHI, Russia – The hate that the Canada and United States women’s hockey teams feel for each other is not of the cartoonish, theatrical type preferred by athletic rivals who feel an obligation to entertain as well as compete. This is real hate, visceral and consuming, and it could be felt throughout their 60-minute clash Thursday night with the Sochi Games gold medal at stake.
And so, as Canada’s players came surging over the boards to celebrate another championship, it may very well have been a toss-up as to what was more satisfying for them: Hugging their own teammates in victory, or watching the Americans slink off the ice in defeat.
The 3-2 overtime victory for the Canadians at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, on a goal by Marie-Philip Poulin, continued a period of Canadian dominance in the Olympics going all the way back to 1998, the last time they lost an Olympic game.
Goals by Meghan Duggan and Alex Carpenter, and a stellar effort in goal by Jessie Vetter, had staked the U.S. to a 2-0 lead deep into the third period, until Canada scored twice in the game’s final three and a half minutes to tie it.
With 3:26 left in the game, Canada’s Brianne Jenner sliced through the U.S. defense and fired a shot that appeared to be heading several feet wide when it deflected off the leg of U.S. defenseman Kacey Bellamy and past Vetter, into the net. Behind the U.S. bench, Coach Katey Stone clapped her hands and yelled “Let’s go!” to her players, trying to keep their spirits up.
Canada pulled its goalie with 90 seconds left, and within seconds the U.S. had a chance at an empty-netter – but the shot from the far blue line slammed against the left post and died there.
Finally, just as the clock was reaching the one-minute mark, Poulin, who had scored both of Canada’s goals in its win over the U.S. in the gold-medal game in 2010, gathered in a rebound on the doorstep and scored past Vetter.
The 4-on-4 overtime became a 4-on-3 advantage for the U.S. following a Canada penalty, and then 3-on-3 a few seconds later on a U.S. penalty. With just under 13 minutes left in overtime, Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser got loose on a breakaway, only to be dragged down from behind by Hillary Knight. That gave Canada a 4-on-3 advantage.
The Canadians worked the puck around to Poulin, who fired past Vetter for the winning goal.
Duggan’s goal came at 11:57 of the second period, when she took a pass from Jocelyn Lamoureux at the left face-off circle and rifled a shot, top shelf, past Canada goalie Shannon Szabados, who appeared to be screened by two of her own players. Duggan went to one knee and pumped her fist.
Mere seconds into the third period, the U.S. went on another power play, and this time capitalized on a Canadian mistake. Kelli Stack dug the puck out of the corner and fed it to Hillary Knight near the point, and Knight fed a perfect pass to Carpenter, whom the Canadians had allowed to gain ideal position near the crease. She scored easily past Szabados to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead.