Matt Slocum/Associated Press
Team Canada won the battle, but it left the impression the war is far from over.
The Canadian women’s hockey team edged the United States on Wednesday, taking a controversial 3-2 victory in what was largely considered to be a preview of the gold-medal game.
The outcome means Canada will finish atop Group A and advance directly to the semifinal round as the top seed. It also gave the team an important W over its archrival, snapping a four-game losing streak to the Americans.
The real winners here, however, may be Olympic hockey fans, as the nature of Team Canada’s victory will only intensify the Sochi Games’ best rivalry if the two teams meet again in the final.
Hayley Wickenheiser broke a 1-1 tie with a goal for Canada early in the third period, but her shot appeared to trickle into the net only after a referee’s whistle sounded to stop play. Confusion ensued, and then—upon further review—the goal was allowed.
Birthday girl Meghan Agosta-Marciano extended the lead to 3-1 with just over five minutes left in the game, and though Team USA fired back with a late goal, the Americans never fully recovered.
Stakes will be high for both Canada and the United States as each automatically advances to the semis. Considering there was no love lost between them heading into this game, a potential gold-medal showdown between the world’s two best women’s hockey teams will be even more hotly anticipated.