NewsCayla Barnes

Canada, Again? That’s A-OK For U.S. Women’s Hockey Team

by Todd Kortemeier

Team USA huddles up prior to the start of the women's ice hockey playoff semifinal match against Team Finland at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 14, 2022 in Beijing.


BEIJING — If the teams weren’t so good and the rivalry so intense, people might be getting tired of seeing the U.S. and Canada facing off yet again in a gold-medal game.
But you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone, fan or player, who’s feeling that way about what will be the sixth meeting to decide Olympic gold between the two biggest rivals in women’s hockey. Canada topped Switzerland and the U.S. knocked off Finland in semifinal action Monday, treating hockey fans everywhere to another round of what has been a decades-long heavyweight fight. And for just the second time at the Olympics, Team USA comes in as the defending gold medalist. 
So no, there’s no fatigue about seeing that red maple leaf across the faceoff circle once more come Thursday night, certainly not among the members of Team USA.
“I think it’s one of the best rivalries in sports,” said defenseman Cayla Barnes, who had a goal and an assist Monday night in a 4-1 win against Finland. “Definitely looking forward to playing against a great Canadian team.”
It isn’t much of a surprise that the U.S. and Canada are facing off again for the Olympic gold medal. The rivals have been the top two teams in the world for years and that goes well beyond their meetings at the Olympics. They’ve met in 19 of 20 gold-medal games at the world championships and in 21 of 23 finals of the 4 Nations Cup. That’s in addition to countless exhibition games. Add it all up and it’d be hard to find two hockey teams that know each other better. 
“It’s the Olympic final, we’re playing Canada, we’re excited,” said U.S. head coach Joel Johnson. “Whether everybody thought it would be this (matchup) or not, now we get to actually say that’s what’s happening, and we’ve got two days to prepare.
“I don’t think we’ve played our best game yet, so we’re excited to see that.”
The neighbors to the north are seeking to regain the biggest prize, Olympic gold. But they’ve won the most recent major title, the 2021 world championship. That overtime victory broke up a streak of five U.S. titles in a row. And then there was the recent My Why Tour exhibition series held across the U.S. and Canada this past fall. Canada won four of six games — and all four held on U.S. soil — as Team USA played well but just couldn’t finish its chances. While recent history can be a preview, at the same time the past is the past and doesn’t have much say in how things go Thursday night.

“I think you live in the moment, you live in the present,” said Kendall Coyne Schofield of how much she thinks about the teams’ storied histories. “It depends on the player, for me it’s all about being in the moment, especially when you’re at the Olympic Games, you work your whole life to get here, and it goes by quick, and you’ve got to take it one day at a time. Today was about Finland, and Thursday will be about Canada.”
Finishing chances was also an issue when the teams met in the preliminary round of the 2022 Olympic tournament. The U.S. outshot Canada 53-27 — a trend for the U.S., which had racked up more than 50 shots on goal in each of its first five games in Beijing. But it was Canada that did more with its chances, beating the U.S. 4-2. That was the only loss of the tournament so far between the two teams, and Canada has been the top scoring team at the Games.
“I think (playing Canada) brings out the best in us and probably brings out the best in them,” said Johnson. “But when I say that, I’m really confident. I told our group I like the way we’re playing. Sometimes you just have to weather through some storms … I know that we’re going to be prepared for whatever kind of game comes forward.”
The U.S. has only ever played one other opponent for a major gold medal, Finland at the 2019 world championships. But in games of that magnitude, players were quick to note the opponent hardly matters. The stakes are as high as can be, regardless.
“Every game is important, intense, especially at the Olympic Games,” said Coyne Schofield. “There’s no bad game, every game’s a great game. These are the games that we live for, these are the games that we dream for, so every time we get an opportunity to play a game at the Olympic Games, it’s a special one.”


Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Beijing 2022? Visit to view the competition schedule, medal table and results.

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor, and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.