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USA and Canada battle for gold in Sochi

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As predicted since the beginning of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, USA faced Canada in the gold medal game Thursday in Sochi, Russia.

A scoring stalemate in the first period, both teams showed their determination to win through strong play and physical presence.

In the second period, Megan Duggan fired a hard wrist shot on Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados to put USA on the board.

USA went up 2-0 in the third period on a goal from Alex Carpenter.

Stellar performances by defensive players highlighted much of the game. Minnesota natives Anne Schleper, Gigi Marvin, Lee Stecklein, and Illinoisan Megan Bozak (who attended the University of Minnesota)--along with goaltender Jessie Vetter (Cottage Grove, Wis.)--were integral in keeping Canada's goal scorers at bay for over 56 minutes of play.

Halfway through the third period USA appeared to cool off their attack, comfortable with the two-goal lead. The result: Canada turned the tides with 3:26 left in third period on a shot from Brianne Jenner who skated in from mid ice and beat Vetter to cut the USA's lead in half.

With 1:35 left, Canada pulled Szabados to give the team a man advantage. Kelli Stack nearly put USA up 3-1 with a long toss from the far blue line, but Canada was saved by the goal post. Seconds later, Marie-Philip Poulin scored on a quick shot over Vetter to tie the game with less than a minute left.

Both teams stepped onto the ice in the sudden death overtime recharged and ready to battle. USA looked set to go on a power play about six minutes into the period, but lost that advantage when Jocelyne Lamoureux was assessed a penalty five seconds later. USA was assessed an additional penalty at 12:29 on a questionable cross-checking call against Hilary Knight. Shortly after, Canada converted on their 5-on-3 advantage at 11:50 to win the gold medal game. The game-winning goal from Poulin was her second of the game.

A visibly emotional Team USA accepted their silver medals--some more graciously than others--in the post-game medal presentation. Canada was awarded gold medals--their fourth in a row since losing the inaugural Olympic women's tournament in 1998 to USA. Switzerland also received their third-place bronze medals in the on-ice ceremony.

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