Canada and Team USA have been on a collision course for the women's hockey gold-medal game at the 2014 Winter Games since the first qualifiers took place nearly two weeks ago. Both teams feature noteworthy stars who will have something to say about the outcome.
While the Americans have been unstoppable thus far, Canada is still the team to beat until proven otherwise—especially after winning their Group A game, 3-2.
Furthermore, according to Reuters (via NBCOlympics.com): "Canada has won the last three gold medals and will once again be the team to beat despite an abrupt head coaching change less than two months before the Olympics."
Now, it's time to see which team will reign supreme in Sochi, as the two powerhouse squads are set to duke it out for the gold on Thursday.
Here's a look at when and where you can catch the action, followed by an examination of the top stars to watch when Canada and the United States play for gold.
When: Thursday, Feb. 20, at 12 p.m. ET
Where: Bolshoy Ice Dome, Sochi, Russia
Live Stream: NBC Olympics Live Extra
Stars to Watch
USA: Brianna Decker, Forward
Brianna Decker scored one goal and dished out two assists to score three points in the 6-1 semifinal victory over Sweden to help Team USA vault into the final.
For the tournament, Decker has scored twice and has assisted on four goals, and she is plus-nine.
Decker and the American team has been eyeing this matchup against Canada since before the Games began, having watched their neighbor from the north win three consecutive golds.
“We want to steal it back,” Decker told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. “Our main goal is to win a gold medal.”
Canada: Rebecca Johnston, Forward
The Canadians will need to score in order to keep up with the high-flying Americans, who have scored 20 goals to this point.
This means Rebecca Johnston will need to continue playing well up front. She's scored twice and has dished two assists thus far, and she is plus-five.
Additionally, Johnston has another big stat to her credit: She scored Canada's 500th goal in Olympic and World Cup competitions during the team's opener in the 2014 Games. Afterward, she was far more focused on winning gold than any personal achievements.
“It was important to get off to a good start, get some confidence going here,” she said, as relayed by Tim Wharnsby of Olympics.CBC.ca.
USA: Jessie Vetter, Goalie
U.S. goalie Jessie Vetter has allowed just five goals in four games thus far.
She's got quite a resume, as shown by Juice Vetter on Twitter, and she was part of the silver-medal team that lost to Canada in 2010:
Vetter interestingly was considering playing soccer in college, but she decided instead to focus on school and hockey.
"It was definitely a difficult decision because hockey was my first love," she said, via Sochi2014.com. "I thought about playing hockey and football at University of Wisconsin-Madison, but with academics and the overlap of season, it would have been too difficult [to play both]."
American hockey fans are happy she made the choice she did. If she can continue her strong play, then Team USA will win the gold.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78