It was another historic chapter in women’s hockey: Canada. USA. Sochi 2014. Gold Medal Game. Would the United States win their first gold medal since 1998, or would it be the Canadians once again?
After an evenly matched first period where Canada fended off multiple penalties, the United States were on the board halfway through the game when captain Megan Duggan placed a pin-point shot over the shoulder of Shannon Szabados to take the lead. The second period ended with a Canadian 5-on-3 powerplay, but Jesse Vetter and the USA defense held their ground.
The United States added to their lead when Alex Carpenter scored early in the third after Tara Watchorn took her third penalty of the game. USA began to control the game, forcing play to the boards and not allowing Canada anywhere near the net. With less than four minutes to go, a broken play ended up on Breanne Jenner’s stick. Her shot bounced off American defender Kacey Bellamy and into the goal, bringing Canada within one goal.
After multiple USA icings, and Canada coach Kevin Dineen calling a timeout, the linesman interfered with Catherine Ward, allowing the Americans to send the puck all the way towards the empty net, but it hit the goal post. Just moments later, Marie-Philip Poulin scored with just 55 seconds left to tie the game at 2. The game would go to overtime.
Canada was on their heels for the first minutes of overtime, but Szabados held them in it with several game-saving stops. After both countries traded penalties, Hailey Wickenheiser was hauled down on a break-away, giving Canada a four-on-three powerplay. The stage was set.
After trading passes with Laura Fortino, Poulin scored past a diving Vetter, sealing the gold medal, and three-goal comeback, for Canada.
Poulin scored twice in Vancouver back in 2010 to seal a victory, and the future Canadian captain came up big once again in her second Olympic games, and at only age 23, has two gold-medal winning goals.
Team Canada’s year was all about overcoming adversity: Dan Church resigned in mid-December, prompting Dineen, who was fired by the Florida Panthers, to take over. After starting his tenure 0-8, he made Caroline Oullette captain of the team, giving longtime leader Hailey Wickenheiser the “A”. Megan Mikkleson played with a broken hand in the gold medal game, an injury that caused her to miss the semi-finals.
The win gives Canada 20 straight victories at the Olympics, with their last loss coming in the Gold Medal game in Nagano. In what could be the last Olympic game for stars such as Wickenheiser, Oullette, and Jayna Hefford, and possibly the last Women’s Hockey game at the Olympics, Canada proved that they were the dominant force in the hockey world once again.
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