2014 Olympic Women's Ice Hockey: Preview and Predictions for USA-Canada Game
In one of the most anticipated matchups of the Sochi Winter Olympics, Team USA will take on the defending gold medal team from Canada and try to avenge their 2010 silver medal finish in the Vancouver Games.
There is no love lost between the rival teams and this should be one of the most tense, exciting hockey games of the Sochi Olympics.
This game marks the third game for each team as they make steps towards the coveted gold medal.
Read on for a complete preview and prediction for Wednesday's showdown in Sochi.
Team Canada and Team USA will renew a bitter rivalry at the Sochi Games. Both teams are part of Group A, which also consists of Switzerland and Finland. Group B is made up of Russia, Germany, Japan and Sweden.
Each team will compete against each team in their group once with the two dominant teams from each division moving on to the semifinals.
Schedule, TV and Live Stream Info
How Did We Get Here?
The ladies from Team USA made it clear immediately that they were making a claim for the top spot on the Olympic podium with a 3-1 victory over Finland in the first game of the series. Though the margin of victory was not gaudy, the win was never in doubt as the United States team outshot Finland 43-15.
They went on to trounce Switzerland in their second game of the Olympics, handing that rival nine unanswered goals. Amanda Kessel and Kendall Coyne were the standouts with two goals and two assists each.
Not to be outdone, the Canadians got off to a strong start with a dominant 5-0 win over Switzerland. They engaged in a defensive struggle with the Finns in the next round, going scoreless until the middle of the third period and then gaining momentum to win 3-0 to remain a perfect 2 for 2 in Sochi.
Can both teams keep their cool?
Off the ice, the women that make up Team USA and Team Canada are respected comrades. On the ice, however, the gloves are off. The heated rivalry between the two teams makes for riveting viewing for the fans, but with a match that could be so close and contentious, neither team can afford an unnecessary penalty if an athlete loses their cool and ignites a brawl.
Can Team Canada rally after a hard fought game against Finland?
Monday morning's game against Finland did not go how the Canadian team was expecting. After a powerful victory against Switzerland, they seemed poised for another tour de force performance. Though it was not a dominant victory, they simply exhausted Finland and scored in the middle of the third period on their way to a 3-0 shutout victory. A win is a win, but how much did it take out of them?
Athletes to Watch
Amanda Kessel, Forward, United States
Kessel, a 22-year-old Wisconsin native, was a key component of Team USA's dominant victory over Switzerland with two goals and two assists. She is a confident, talented player and one of many in the loaded arsenal representing the United States.
Hilary Knight, Forward, United States
With two strong performances at the Olympics so far, Knight was part of the team that battled to a silver medal in Vancouver. She is no stranger to playing under intense Olympic pressure and the 24-year-old offensive powerhouse should be a top contender against Canada.
Shannon Szabados, Goaltender, Canada
It is difficult to argue with perfection. So far, Canada's goaltender Szabados, a 27-year-old Edmonton native, has yet to allow a goal from two games at the Sochi Olympics. She was a part of the gold-medal winning team in Vancouver in 2010 and appears to be in sharp form.
Final Score Prediction
Prediction: United States 3, Canada 2
With both teams earning consecutive victories over Switzerland and Finland, this game is largely irrelevant as far as any semifinals implications. Both teams will move on and this will likely be be a preview for a gold-medal showdown later in the Games.
Though this game has little implication on who will qualify, you can rest assured that both superpower teams will be playing as if this is the game that decides the gold.