The US and Canadian women’s hockey teams will spend Thursday in Beijing, exactly where they are expected to come from at the start of this Olympics: playing in a gold medal match.
The suspense is almost never present in the match. Two nations have vie for a gold medal at every Olympics but one since women’s hockey became an Olympic sport in 1998. The only thing left to settle is the score after 60 minutes (or extra time, like 2014 or, like 2018, a penalty shootout).
Canada looked to strike first about seven minutes into the game, as American goalkeeper Alex Cavallini cleared the ball and watched Natalie Spooner come on with a powerful shot across the goal line. However, the United States held that Canada was offside – an assessment officials made after an American challenge.
It was a break that put the game in just 35 seconds, when, after Canada won face to face, Sarah Nurse received a pass from Claire Thompson, turned and scored, the ball going into the net on the right.
The Canadians, who have scored an Olympic-record 54 goals during their time in Beijing, are looking to dethrone the Americans as Olympic champions. They came to the final match at Wukesong Sports Center with three of the top five scorers of this Olympics: Brianne Jenner (9 goals), Sarah Fillier (8) and Jamie Lee Rattray (5).
The Americans have scored fewer goals, but Hilary Knight, who is playing in her fourth Olympics for the United States, is also among the leaders of the tournament, with five goals.
Both teams also have experienced scorers on the ice: Cavallini of the United States and Ann-Renée Desbiens of Canada.
Expect ample speed in this game, especially from Kendall Coyne Schofield, the American captain and one of the fastest skaters in the world.
“It’s the coolest attribute in my game,” she said in an interview last month. The sport is getting faster and faster, she added.
“It is getting faster because of the training process, the innovation behind the training mechanism, the innovation behind the recovery mechanism and just the evolution of training and skating,” she said. “I think the players are working hard, but they are also working smarter.”
The Canadians, being very agile themselves, were preparing for the onslaught.
“Obviously, when we played the Americans, it was a quick game,” Nurse said before the final. “And so it’s about really spreading them out, not too tight, into the corner, but really spreading their defence so we can create attack.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/16/sports/olympics/us-canada-womens-hockey.html USA and Canada Square Run for Women’s Hockey Gold Medal