The U.S. and Canada's Olympic hockey rivalry doesn't just apply to the men, as their women's teams proved on Feb. 20. A day before the U.S. and Canada were set to play a mere men's hockey semifinal, the women of Team USA and Team Canada played their fourth straight women's gold medal final. For much of the day, it looked like America would finally dethrone Canada, until the final minutes of regulation and overtime turned a 2-0 lead into a 3-2 disaster of a loss.
The Canadians had a much easier time beating America for the gold in 2002, 2006 and 2010, but it appeared that the U.S. had learned its lesson in 2014. Meghan Duggan opened the scoring for the USA in the second period, with Alex Carpenter's early third period power play goal shaping up to be a backbreaker.
With under four minutes left, the score remained 2-0 as Canada was virtually on the ropes. Even when Brianne Jenner got the Canadians on the board with 3:26 left, the Americans still held firm for the next two minutes. It all seemed set up to culminate in a clinching empty net goal by Kelli Stack, until her shot went inches wide.
Seconds later, Canada got a bigger reprieve when Marie-Philip Poulin did get the puck into America's net. Nevertheless, the U.S. still had overtime to finish the Canadians off, and even received a power play six minutes in. Yet just five seconds later, America's Jocelyne Lamoureux was called for slashing the pads of Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados, with Hilary Knight then called for cross checking moments after that.
The 4-on-3 Canadian power play set up Poulin for her second legendary goal of the day -- the one that gave Canada its fourth straight Olympic women's hockey gold over America. It was even more sudden than the Canadian men's overtime victory over the U.S. to win gold in 2010, although the Americans forced overtime at the last minute in that final.
In this case, a last minute comeback in an Olympic hockey final actually paid off, yet Team Canada still prevailed over Team USA in both cases. Perhaps the Americans will have better luck in a hockey semifinal against Canada than they have in the last two Olympic finals. However, it's hard to imagine the men facing a tougher defeat than the women were subjected to.