By Josh Ferguson
Team Canada will sit atop of the hockey world for another four years after a 2-0 win over the United States at Canada Hockey Place on Thursday.
Marie-Philip Poulin scored both of Canada’s goals and goalie Shannon Szabados was sensational between the pipes stopping all 28 shots she faced for the shutout. The packed house was treated to a feisty back-and-forth battle between two bitter rivals who combined for 22 minutes in penalties.
Just 30 seconds after Canada killed-off 3:21 of power play time for Team USA, Canadian veteran Jennifer Botterill carried the puck into American territory before feeding a wide open Poulin in the slot. The 18-year-old would make no mistake and snap it over the glove of Jessie Vetter with three American defenders caught watching the play.
Two minutes after taking a 1-0 lead, Jayna Hefford was called for slashing to put the Americans on the power play for the third time in the first period. However, Jinelle Zaugg-Siergiej shot Team USA in the foot when she was nabbed for hooking just 36 seconds into the man advantage.
Canada would make them pay with a faceoff in the American’s end when Poulin won the draw right to Meghan Agosta in the slot. Agosta tried to get a weak shot on goal, but the puck bounced off of an American defender and right to Poulin who buried her second goal of the game to make it a two-goal lead for the host nation.
With the doors of both penalty boxes getting more work through the second period, special teams and goaltending quickly became the difference-maker in the gold medal game. Canada simply rose to the occasion and when Szabados wasn’t flashing some leather to deny the Americans, Canadian skaters were dropping and flopping everywhere to block the shots for their keeper.
After a scoreless second period, the refs put their whistles in their pockets for the third and the two rivals would trade scoring chances, but Szabados and Vetter would each stand tall. Canada clamped down in the final minutes and held on for the win to bring the home crowd to their feet.
An entire nation rejoices as the women’s national team wins their third consecutive Olympic title. No Canadian team or individual has won three-straight Olympic gold medals since the men’s hockey team from 1924-1932.
By Josh Ferguson