For the past several Olympics team USA has faced off against Team Canada for the gold in women’s hockey, and it will happen again at Sochi in 2014.
These two teams are the best in the world, head and shoulders above the rest, and Canada has taken the gold in the last three Olympic meetings. USA was ready to reverse that at Sochi, though, after beating the Canadian women in four straight exhibition games before the Olympic Games began.
The momentum from those wins might be gone now ad Canada took its revenge by beating the U.S. women 3–2 at Sochi’s Shayba Arena Wednesday in a game which wasn’t as close as the score would indicate.
Canada came out strong in the first period while the Americans were a little sloppy, turning over the puck too often, while Canada was impenetrable on defense, blocking more shots than got through to goalkeeper Charline Labonte. Only the superb goalkeeping of Jessie Vetter kept America in the game.
That turned around halfway through the second period when Kelli Stack got a breakaway scoring chance, which, even though it was foiled by Labonte, seemed to energize the American team.
With just over two minutes left in the period Canada picked up a penalty, and with the man advantage, USA could press even harder, and it paid off. Annie Schleper steamed an 18-foot drive from the right side and Hilary knight, positioned right in front of Labonte, tipped the flying puck past the Canadian keeper to break the 0–0 tie.
The goal might have excited the U.S. team, but it sent Canada into maximum overdrive. The Canadian women completely controlled the third period, scoring three goals and keeping the U.S. from even making a shot on net for the first sixteen minutes.
The scoring started early for Canada as a minute into the period U.S. forward Brianne Decker picked up two minutes for tripping. Meghan Agosta-Marciano then scored a powerplay goal assisted by Hayley Wickenheiser to tie the game.
Three minutes later Wickenheiser charged down the right side and took a shot takes the shot which Vetter blocked but the U.S. netminder left a rare rebound which U.S. forward Alex Carpenter tried to tuck under Vetter to stop play, but the puck slid under Vetter and into the net.
The goal was reviewed because one official whistled the play dead before another signallwed the goal. Replay seemed to show that the whistle blew before the puck crossed the line.
Halfway into the period America almost got back on the board when Jocelyn Lamoureux hit the post, but that was as close as the U.S. women got to a shot on net. Canada took 12 shots in the first three quarters of the period, one of them being a breakaway goal by Meghan Agosta-Marciano.
America pulled Jessie Vetter with two-and-a-half minutes left to gain a sixth attacker, and with 1:10 left this paid off when Megan Bozek grabbed a loose puck five feet in front of the Canadian keeper.
Labonte made the stop but lost track of the puck in the welter of bodies around the net. The puck slid out to the left faceoff circle where Annie Schlepper coralled it and drove a high shot off the glove of LaBonte and into the net.
USA pulled Vetter again immediately after the face-off, and with 30 seconds left in the game Canada got caught making a sloppy line-change and was called for too many players on the ice, giving the U.S. team six attackers facing four defenders plus the goalie.
Canada was too close to getting its revenge to let the U.S. take advantage—the Canadians didn’t let the U.S. women get a really clean shot in the final 30 seconds, preserving their 3–2 edge.
Jessie Vetter discussed the controversial goal after the whistle after the game.
It was a shot and I thought I had the rebound, I heard the whistle, and all of a sudden I turned around and they were cheering—but that’s just the way it goes,” she told NBCOlympics.com. “I think we responded well to it, and came back and gave ourselves a chance at the end of the game.”
Vetter says the team’s confidence is not at all shaken by the loss. “I think any opportunity you have to get a good game—and I think we played an overall very good game. I think we can build a lot off of this and move on to the semis and keep playing good hockey.”
Both teams have a by for the next round, and will wait until Monday to play their semi-final opponents.