Meghan Duggan was the first to break the ice in the Olympic Women’s Hockey gold medal game. The goal put the USA up (1 - 0) over Canada after a period and a half of very physical play. Multiple power play opportunities for both teams hardly reflected the numerous collisions, swings and downright unladylike play of the early periods -- the officiating was relaxed, but the rivalry was hitting a boiling point.
The third period began with the USA women looking sharp, confident and focused. Alexandra Carpenter added another goal putting her team up (2 - 0) over their rivals who held a similar lead in Vancouver four years before. Gold seemed destined to be returning at last to the stars and stripes.
As the remaining time of the third period dwindled, the aggression on both sides cooled, much to the detriment of the Americans. Canada at last seemed to focus on winning the game rather than clobbering their opponent. With 3:26 left in the third period Canada’s Brianne Jenner finally broke through the stalwart defense of the USA goalkeeper Jesse Vetter.
At 1:35 Canada pulled their goalkeeper, but almost regretted it within seconds as the puck found its way across the ice clinking just off the metal frame of their goal. Then with just 54 seconds left on the clock, Marie-Philip Poulin tied the game and sent the teams into the first gold medal overtime in the history of Olympic Women’s Hockey.
Overtime produced opportunities for both sides as the ladies flew across the ice, putting plenty of shots on goal. With a quick consecutive series of penalties, the ice opened up to the point where only nine players were left in play -- with Canada’s number advantage on the verge of widening to +2, a five on three situation, Marie-Philip Poulin, Canada’s heroine of the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, ended the sudden-death period with her second goal of the night.
A joyful Switzerland proudly took bronze, the United States tearfully settled for silver and Canada maintained their flawless streak by bringing home the gold, for the fourth straight Olympics. It looks like Stephen Harper will be enjoying at least one case of American beer.
The United States Men's Hockey square off
against Canada tomorrow at 11 am CST in a quarterfinal matchup -- hopefully our neighbors to the north don't soak up all the Olympic glory.
Photos via: Google