Whether you think the two teams are close or not, the results say that Canada is a big favorite over the U.S. in Thursday’s women’s hockey gold medal game.
Most obviously, the Canadians are dominating at the Olympic level. They’ve won two straight gold medal games against the United States (2002 and 2010) and are going for their fourth consecutive gold medal overall. Most stunningly, they haven’t lost a game in the Olympics since 1998, a streak of 19 straight wins.
That 2-0 loss in the gold medal game from 2010 probably stings for returning U.S. team members, but a 3-2 group play loss in this tournament is likely the first thing in mind. U.S. forward Monique Lamoureux told the Associated Press that she fully expects a better effort.
“Whenever film sessions run 30 minutes or longer, it’s not the happiest moment,” Lamoureux. “I got called out, and a lot of people did. We took it to heart.”
“After that, we felt a lot better because we know we can do better and we will do better.”
On the Canadian side, they’re doing their best to approach the contest as they would any other.
“I don’t get nervous. It’s just another game,” Canadian defenseman Jocelyne Larocque said.
A healthy number of women’s hockey fans would disagree heartily.
A quick look at the rivalry
The U.S. and Canada are the only women’s teams to win gold at the Olympics since the event debuted in 1998. They faced off in three finals, with the U.S. winning 3-1 in 1998 and Canada taking it all with a 3-2 win in 2002 and a 2-0 shutout in 2010.
The teams haven’t been afraid to mix it up, including in Canadian head coach Kevin Dineen’s debut.
The two nations seem aware that it’s a race to first with others lagging behind, even if some are more honest about it than others.
Some key names
With connections to her U.S. men’s star brother Phil Kessel, many are probably aware of Amanda Kessel, who is making her Olympic debut.
She isn’t the only name to know, however. The United States features some talented players, especially among its forwar ranks, as Kessel joins veteran Julie Chu, the Lamoureux sisters (Monique and Jocelyne), Hilary Knight, Kendall Coyne and Meghan Duggan. This might serve as Chu and goalie Jessie Vetter’s final chance to beat Canada.
Canada boasts plenty of big names of its own, of course. The biggest is Hayley Wickenheiser – whether she’s the captain or not – who is often described as the greatest player in the history of women’s hockey. Other players of note include Meghan Agosta-Marciano and Caroline Ouelette, who received the “C” from Wickenheiser.