Minutes away from their first gold medal since finishing first in the inaugural Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan; a stunned U.S. team will now be heading home with silver.
Up 2-0 with under four minutes left in the gold medal game against Canada on Thursday, the United States surrendered two goals, sending the game to overtime.
A shocked U.S. team entered the extra frame, and even dictated play, until forward Hilary Knight was forced to take down Canadian forward Haley Wickenheiser (who had a breakaway). Armed with a two-man advantage (after their own penalty had expired), the Canadians were quick to capitalize; as Marie-Philip Poulin put the golden goal (her second of the contest) past U.S. goaltender Jessie Vetter, to catapult Canada to their fourth straight Olympic gold in the event.
The Americans looked solid for most of the hard-hitting contest, often dictating play with their size and tenacity on the puck. Their hard work paid off in the first period, as captain Meghan Duggan put the puck past Canadian goaltender Shannon Szabados to stake the U.S. to a 1-0 lead.
A physical contest, both teams took several penalties. The U.S. capitalized on the powerplay in the third period, when Alex Carpenter put the Americans up by 2.
After that, the style of play changed dramatically for the Americans. In an attempt simply to stave off the Canadian attack, Team USA seemingly abandoned their forecheck. Instead, they seemed content playing back on their heels, as they dropped all five of their skaters back to help defensivly.
Canada capitalized on their opponents’ change in style, when Brianne Jenner cut the deficit in half with three and a half minutes left in regulation.
With their goaltender pulled in favor of an extra attacker, Canada knotted the game up when Poulin scored with under one minute remaining.
The U.S. seemingly never recovered, and will now have to wait another four years for a chance at redemption against their rivals.