Far and away the two most dominant women’s hockey teams in the world, Team Canada and Team USA, met in Sochi to determine who would skate away with the gold. It was the second straight Olympics that the bitter rivals met for the top spot on the podium and the fourth time overall.
The US won gold in 1998, but Canada took the top prize over the U.S. in 2002 and 2010. Canada hasn’t lost in the Olympics since the US defeated them in the finals in Nagano in 1998.
Ponytails and facemasks aside, don’t be fooled: these teams do not like each other and they play hard to win. Canada is branded as the world’s best year after year and the U.S. is eager to take the title away.
There’s also a case of beer at stake. On Thursday, President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced their bet on Twitter (TWTR) , although what kind of beer was not specified.
Well, Obama will be doing the buying.
The U.S. ladies took a 1-0 lead in the second period on a goal by captain Meghan Duggan. Alex Carpenter made it 2-0 on a power play goal in the third period as the U.S. continued to dominate the ice. Then, with about 3-1/2 minutes left in the game, Canada halved the lead when a shot by Brianne Carter deflected off U.S. defenseman Kacey Bellamy and got passed goalie Jessie Vetter to find the back of the net, setting the scene for a wild finish.
Canada pulled goalie Shannon Szabados with 1:35 left to play. The U.S. nearly put the game away with a shot from their own blue line with 80 seconds left that hit the goal post and skipped off to the left.
Marie-Philip Poulin then sent the game in to overtime with a goal 25 seconds later.
Poulin was the hero in overtime as well, scoring 8:10 into the extra period as the U.S. was skating two players down due to penalties.
The heartbreaking loss left most of the US women’s team in tears as they accepted their silver medals. For Canada, the gold medal streak has been extended to 16 years. It’s not clear yet whether Canada’s Jayna Hefford, Hayley Wickenheiser and Caroline Ouellette (all in their mid-30s) will return for a chance to break a record that they now share with U.S. basketball player Lisa Leslie as the only women to win gold in the same Olympic event four straight times.
Switzerland took home the bronze by defeating Sweden 4-3 in an earlier game.