In a tense fight to the finish, Team Canada’s ladies hockey team is once again golden. This is the fourth Olympic medal win for the squad, who was among the older teams that played in this Olympics. Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin, one of Team Canada’s forwards, scored the golden goal eight minutes into the overtime period, sealing Canada as the most winning ladies’ hockey squad.
The win means that US President Barack Obama owes Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper a crate of beer. The Canadian squad erupted when Poulin’s game-winning goal slammed into the back of the net, ending the Americans’ quest for hockey gold that has been ongoing since the beginning of Canada’s reign as the Olympic gold medal champions for women’s hockey in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. The Americans were understandably devastated, as the US squad outshot Team Canada 11-9 in the first period and maintained steady pressure on the Canadians, scoring two goals in the second and third periods.
Team Canada had a few chances to capitalize on American penalties, but were unable to do much on the power plays. It wasn’t until Canada’s Brianne Jenner netted her first goal of the tournament with 3:15 left in the third period that the pressure really heightened for both teams. Poulin scored the second goal with less than a minute left in the game, sending the game into four-on-four overtime action. If an Olympic game goes into overtime, the action shifts to four-on-four, and the ladies on both sides ramped up the physicality of the action.
Canada was the first to take a penalty in OT play, with Catherine Ward receiving two minutes for cross-checking. The action got tense while the US continued their power play, until Team USA got caught for slashing seconds later. American Hilary Knight also took a penalty for cross-checking, giving Canada a fourth on-ice attacker. Poulin took advantage of the situation, skating in to slam the winning goal past US goalie Jessie Vetter. Poulin also scored the game-winner four years ago during the gold medal game in Vancouver. The ladies’ hockey squad for Team Canada is once again golden, thanks to that game-winner.
For both teams, the NHL isn’t waiting at the end of this game. This is their shot that comes every four years, and Canada took it this time. While Team USA may have been the younger squad and faster, Team Canada captain Caroline Ouellette and her teammates proved, once again, that experience can trump youth. This was an emotional medal ceremony for the Americans, who saw their hopes for hockey gold fade once again with an overtime goal. To be sure, Poulin will be smiling about scoring the game-winner in back-to-back Olympics for some time to come, and for her and some of the other members of Team Canada, there is a return to university hockey. Poulin plays for the University of Boston Terriers and forward Hayley Wickenheiser plays for the University of Calgary Dinos, for instance.
Both teams have earned a hero’s welcome when they return to their respective nations. They have fought hard to get to the final game, and that’s an honor that you are not simply handed. It’s earned, and both teams battled hard to reach the podium. While Team USA may not have gotten the results they had hoped for, their Olympic dreams have, to some extent, still been realized; they did reach the podium, and should be proud of their accomplishments. Team Canada’s ladies, though, can enjoy the golden glow of winning four back-to-back Olympics. The ladies’ squad has, to be sure, reached the rank of legend in their home country.
By Christina St-Jean