Canada take ice hockey gold in overtime
US women led by two with four minutes to go only to be cruelly pegged back in Sochi
Brianne Jenner of Canada celebrates her goal against the United States during the ice hockey women’s gold medal game at Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi. Photograph: Martin Rose/Getty Images
Rapture in the Bolshoy. After a stunning women’s ice hockey final that contained as much drama as the rest of Sochi 2014 put together, Canada won their third straight gold in sudden death overtime.
They had every opportunity to let it get away from them but somehow, from somewhere, they dug it out. For the second time at these games they beat the USA 3-2 but the scoreline doesn’t tell a fraction of the story.
In the end, it was desperately cruel on the American team. They were the better side in regulation – hungrier, smarter, more clinical in front of goal. They led 2-0 with under four minutes to go and seemed reasonably comfortable and confident of holding out.
Most agonising moment
Even when Brianne Jenner pulled a goal back with 56:34 of the 60 minutes gone, it looked as though the States would see it out. Canada pulled their goalie off the ice for the last two minutes, leading to the most agonising moment of the night when American player Kelli Stack essayed a clearance from her own half and that looked for all the world like it was going into the empty net.
A half an inch to the right and it was a goal and the gold was going to the US. Instead, it caromed off the post and skittered to safety, leaving Canada with one more chance to save themselves.
Which, improbably, they did with 55 seconds to go, Marie-Philip Poulin equalising and sending the place into orbit.
The night reeked with tension from the off. The Canadian women don’t lose at the Olympics, or at least they hadn’t since America beat them in Nagano in 1998. From that day to this, they had won 19 games in a row.
Not alone that, they had gone 1,057 minutes without trailing until the group game here when Meghan Duggan put the US into a lead they ultimately weren’t able to hold.
Winning that game nine days ago made them just about favourites going in here but not definitively and certainly not by much.
Nothing has been more gripping in Sochi than the rivalry between these two teams. The only event anywhere as close at the end was the dead heat in the women’s downhill. And as this pair swatted it out through overtime, gold medals for all didn’t seem the worst idea iever.
The US started better, the Canadians started rougher. Tara Watchorn was binned for body -checking inside the first two minutes – the first of three visits she would make before the night was out. It was a reminder that not only are these two rivals, they’re not particularly friendly rivals.