The Canadian women's hockey team reaffirmed its dominance in Thursday's gold-medal game, defeating the USA 3-2 in overtime and handing their archrival another crushing loss on the Winter Olympics stage.
Canada beats the U.S. for the gold medal in women's hockey in OT, 3-2! pic.twitter.com/EoU4MdY4UC— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 20, 2014
Canada looked as though it was going to let the Americans get revenge from the previous Olympics' final, but stormed back from a two-goal deficit in the final 3:26 of regulation at Sochi, Russia's Bolshoy Ice Dome. Then it only seemed fitting that Marie-Philip Poulin finished it off in the extra period on the power play.
As intense as this so-called "Border War" is between the two teams, it has always seemed like the USA has been at a disadvantage, as if they're playing with one less player in the biggest moment.
In the 2010 Vancouver Games, the Canadians had the benefit of home ice and a massive following to cheer them on. That only adds to the U.S. disappointment, which was compounded before Poulin's equalizer with 55 seconds in regulation.
ESPN's Julie Foudy recalled how Poulin scored the winner in 2010 to defeat the Americans:
CAN's tie'ing goal scored by Marie Philip Poulin, the same MPM who scored both goals v US in Gold medal game 4 yrs ago to win Olympics.— Julie Foudy (@JulieFoudy) February 20, 2014
Adding to the heartbreak was the USA's Kelli Stack, who had a chance to clinch the game for the Americans, firing a shot almost the entire length of the ice just before Poulin scored. Goalie Shannon Szabados was pulled for an extra attacker, and the puck bounced off the post, giving the Canadians new life.
The Chicago Sun-Times captured how close Stack's shot was to going in and giving the USA the likely clinching goal:
Stack discussed the heartbreak afterward, per Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch:
When I first let it go I thought maybe it had a chance. As it crossed the blue line, I thought, "It’s going to hit the post." At the time, we were still up a goal. I was thinking that would have been nice if it went in. An inch to the right…I thought, it’s not that big a deal. We were still up a goal. But it would have given us a bigger cushion. After they tied it up, I thought to myself: I did that once before in college, and it’s the worst feeling in the world.
Bleacher Report's Dan Levy seemed to think justice was served, since an official got in the way and caused Canada to lose possession in the first place:
Canada lost the puck b/c of the linesman. USA hit the post on the clearance. Puck don’t lie.— Dan Levy (@DanLevyThinks) February 20, 2014
But at the same time, it was a cruel break for an American team that fought so hard, only to see fate turn against them yet again.
That empty net seemed to tease what could have been for the USA. Poulin's prowess was an ominous, strangely coincidental rerun of the horror film that happened before.
Stack's shot toward a defenseless net could have made all the four years of hard work and training worthwhile. The buildup for this revenge narrative was incredible, especially when Canada beat the U.S. 3-2 during the preliminary round, further fueling the fire.
When will Canada give up the Olympic gold in women's hockey?
Canada's win at that stage took a three-goal flurry in the third period to rally from a 1-0 deficit after two periods. Thursday's comeback was far more impressive and dramatic—all the while proving that the Canadians could rise to the occasion on the big stage, as the Americans again relented.
These two countries seem extremely close in women's ice hockey in terms of talent and quality, but the U.S. must feel miles behind since Canada has come up with the gold yet again. Now another four years wait before the Americans can prove themselves again—another attempt to derail the four-time defending gold medalists.
Although the USA shouldn't feel down about its extraordinary effort, Thursday's game was yet another example of Canada's perpetual reign atop the sport.