Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Ice hockey-Canada reclaim gold crown, US take silver

Ice hockey-Canada reclaim gold crown, US take silver
February 17, 2022 Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) - Canada beat the United States 3-2 to win the women's ice hockey final at the Beijing Olympics on Thursday, reclaiming the gold medal the Americans had taken from them four years ago in Pyeongchang.

Captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored the winning goal, a rebound in the second period, as an outgunned US team recorded 40 shots on goal to Canada's 21 across the entire affair but were unable to convert where it counted.

"There is some angel up there. This group makes things easy celebrating each other's success being on the same page, one team," Poulin said.

"Since 2018 we have been putting in the work and to be honest, to be rewarded with that gold medal today, was all worth it."

Forward Hannah Brandt nearly got the US on the board in the first three minutes with a wrist shot that ricocheted off the post while a would-be goal for Canada midway through the frame was called off after the US challenged for offsides.

But Canadian sharpshooter Sarah Nurse got her team going shortly after and Poulin added to the advantage 15 minutes into the first period, stealing the puck and whipping it past American netminder Alex Cavallini.

She produced the game-winner midway through the second frame, with a rebound off Cavallini's pads.

Four-time Olympian Hilary Knight retaliated, getting the Americans on the board with a shorthanded effort with less than four minutes to go in the frame.

Amanda Kessel converted on a power play with 13 seconds to go in the third after the US pulled their goalie to bring the contest to a nail-biting conclusion.

Once the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Canadians celebrated, throwing their gloves in the air and mobbing each other in a scene of utter joy, having earned sweet redemption four years after the Americans ended their run of four straight golds in a devastating shootout loss.

"I got shivers, 2018 was hard, very, very hard," said Poulin. "When you take some time to reflect what you need to do better as a group, personally I did, and it really pays off. When you surround yourself with good people good things happen."

Nurse made history with the most points and assists in a single women's Olympic tournament, while Poulin - who had already well-earned the nickname "Captain Clutch" before Thursday's superb effort - ended the day as Beijing's second scoring leader.

It was a devastating blow to the Americans, who also lost to Canada in the world championships last year.

"We were never going to give up and I knew that and we believed that right to the very end," said assistant captain Lee Stecklein. "We always believed we could do it - if they had three, we were going to find a way to get four and we believed that until the very end."

Finland defeated Switzerland 4-0 the previous day to take bronze.

The win on Thursday capped an utterly dominant tournament for the Canadians, who did not lose a single game and recorded an 11-0 shutout over Sweden in their quarter-final and 10-3 win against Switzerland in the semi-final.