Exciting Rally and Unstable Future ; Canada Beats U.S. to Win 4th Gold in Hockey, but Players Have Few Options

By Crouse, Karen | International New York Times, February 22, 2014 | Go to article overview

Exciting Rally and Unstable Future ; Canada Beats U.S. to Win 4th Gold in Hockey, but Players Have Few Options


Crouse, Karen, International New York Times


Canada stunned the United States to win the gold medal, but what happens next for the development of the game is hard to gauge.

The decisive goal in Canada's 3-2 overtime victory against the United States in the Olympic women's hockey final could not have been diagramed any better. Never mind that it was not the play Canada's coach, Kevin Dineen, had drawn up. Who was he to complain?

"You know what?" he said. "They got the puck on the right stick."

That stick belonged to Marie-Philip Poulin, who also scored twice in Canada's 2-0 victory over the United States in the gold medal game at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

With Canada on the power play Thursday, Poulin and Laura Fortino moved the puck back and forth until they drew out the American goaltender Jessie Vetter. That created a gaping hole for Poulin, who put the puck in the back of the net, 8 minutes 10 seconds into the overtime period.

Poulin's final shot, with Hilary Knight in the penalty box for crosschecking Hayley Wickenheiser on a breakaway, capped a game that was riveting, rousing and, ultimately, repetitive. The gold medal was Canada's fourth straight, and the third it won by vanquishing the United States, the winner of the inaugural women's competition in 1998, in a final.

The Americans hung their heads as the Canadian team celebrated and were mostly tearful while receiving their silver medals.

Ahead by 2-0 with less than four minutes left in regulation, the Americans gave up a score to Brianne Jenner and then another to Poulin with 55 seconds left and the Canadian goalie pulled for an extra attacker.

Between the scores, Kelli Stack had a chance to put the game away for the United States, but her clearing shot clanked off the post of the empty net.

"It's heartbreaking," Knight said. "You think you've got the game in the bag, and then something happens."

Three penalties, two on the Americans, were called in overtime, each seemingly more controversial than the last. When Knight caught Wickenheiser from behind, the Americans thought no penalty should have been called; the Canadians argued Wickenheiser should have been awarded a penalty shot.

After the game, the Americans did not blame the officials for their loss, but Coach Katey Stone put the officiating in the context of the pursuit to expand the women's game.

"I think officiating is no different than developing players and programs," she said. "The game is growing in leaps and bounds. The pace of the game is tremendous.

"We have to make sure that every part of the game operation and game management is developing at as fast a rate as it possibly can."

What happens next for the development of the game is hard to gauge. With few options available to her and other players after college, Knight, 24, said she intended to pursue a spot in the men's league in Sweden.

"I think I'm at my prime right now," she said. "I'm one of the best players in the world. If I can do that and help women's hockey in any way, I'm going to. …

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