The Canada – United States women’s hockey rivalry continued on Wednesday when the two teams faced off in Sochi. Both teams came into the game sporting 2-0 records, and therefore, both had byes to the semifinals. In most cases, this would be a less meaningful game, but because it featured the of two greatest rivals for the sport, there was nothing to be held back by either team.
Canada and the United States have dominated Women’s hockey in recent years. Since the introduction of Women’s hockey in the Olympics in 1998 the U.S. has won one gold medal, while Canada has won the last three in a row. Both teams have expressed that whenever these two teams meet up, regardless of the circumstance, it feels like a gold medal game.
Both Canada and the U.S. started the tournament 2-0 with victories over Finland and Switzerland, but the battle for North America is a whole other kind of animal. Both teams seemed to be feeling each other out in the early goings of this contest, as the first period ended in a scoreless draw.
In the second period it was the Americans who struck first, off of a power play goal by forward, Hilary Knight. Team U.S.A. controlled the game for most of the second period, but they were only able to score once and take a 1-0 lead heading into the final period. In the third period, the Canada – United States rivalry would continue to rage on. Early in the third period, Canada went on the power play and it was Meghan Agosta-Marciano who scored and tied the game up at one point each.
Just a minute later Canada would score again, this time it was the Captain and Olympic flag-bearer, Hayley Wickenheiser. Wickenheiser’s goal did come with a bit of controversy, as American goaltender, Jesse Vetter thought the whistle had been prior to the puck crossing the goal line. The play would be reviewed, but in the end the call was upheld and Canada took a 2-1 lead.
With just over five minutes to go in the third, Agosta-Marciano found herself on a breakaway, and was able to beat Jesse Vetters, to give Team Canada a 3-1 edge. The Americans did not fade away however. With Vetters pulled from her net, Anne Schleper was able to beat Canada’s Charline Labonte, to pull Team U.S.A. within a goal with 65 seconds left to play.
With just over 30 seconds left in the period, Team Canada was awarded a penalty for too many players on the ice. With Vetters still out of her net this gave the United States a 6 on 4 advantage for the remainder of the period. Labonte and Team Canada would hold on to their lead in the dying seconds of the game and squeak out a 3-2 victory.
Labonte saved 25 of 27 shots, while Vetters stopped 28 of the 31 she faced. Meghan Agosta-Marciano, who was the MVP of the Vancouver Olympics and was also celebrating her 27th birthday, finished the game with two goals and an assist.
Despite the loss, the American squad will still advance to the semi-finals of the tournament and both the States and Team Canada will await the winners of the quarterfinal matches. The stage is set for Canada and the United States to meet up yet again in the gold medal match in Sochi and continue their storied rivalry.
By Eric Kummel