U.S. Women Brace For Another Rematch Against Canada With Gold Medal On The Line
by Scott Charles
Hilary Knight #21 celebrates her goal with Kendall Coyne Schofield #26 and Megan Keller #5 in the second period during the women's ice hockey playoff semifinal match against and Team Finland during the Olymppic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on February 14, 2022 in Beijing.
The inevitable has turned into reality.
The United States and Canada have been on a collision course since the beginning of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and the two hockey powers will meet in the Gold-Medal game for the sixth time in the seven Olympics that have featured women’s hockey.
Canada has steamrolled through the tournament, compiling a 54-8 goal differential and six straight wins, including a 4-2 victory against the U.S. in the preliminary round.
However, the defending 2018 champions will look to slow down Canada and bring the Gold Medal back to the United States.
“This rivalry is one of the most intense things I’ve ever been a part of,” four-time Olympian and U.S. alternate captain Hilary Knight told USA Hockey. “It gets your blood flowing in a different way and brings out the best level of competition in you.”
The U.S. arguably played its best game of the tournament against Canada, outshooting its opponent 53-27, dictating the style of play and controlling possession for large stretches of time. But the offensive zone time did not lead to goals and Canada was able to capitalize on its few chances and remain undefeated in Beijing.
“Shots on net don’t win hockey games, goals do,” U.S. coach Joel Johnson said after the loss. “We’ve got to find a way to use our offensive zone time to generate higher quality scoring chances. … I just feel really good about how we match up against Canada. I think if we can generate a few more scoring chances and make some plays, then that would hopefully be our best game.”
But a preliminary round game is distinctly different than a Gold-Medal matchup.
“These are the games that we live for,” U.S. captain Kendall Coyne Schofield told the Associated Press following a 4-1 semifinal win over Finland. “Everyone’s been so resilient through the pandemic with the ups and downs, the cancellations, postponements and finding ways to train, and it’s for this moment. We’re going to empty the tanks, and this is what we came here to do.”
The Canadians have had a chip on their shoulder since a devastating loss to the Americans in PyeongChang when Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored the game-winner in the sixth round of the shootout to propel the U.S. to its first Gold Medal in women’s hockey since 1998.
The U.S. has struggled to light up the scoreboard, scoring more than five goals once while Canada has reached double digits four times, including a 10-3 win against Switzerland in the semifinals. But don’t let the lopsided scores fool you. Five of the last eight contests between these two rivals have been decided by one goal and four in overtime.
The U.S. has rotated goalies throughout the tournament but expect Alex Cavallini to get the nod between the pipes after playing against Finland in the semifinals. Maddie Rooney was the goaltender of record in the 2018 Gold-Medal win and started in the preliminary round against Canada. She will likely be the backup.
“Our message to the team has been, it’s four years for four months and four months for two weeks and two weeks to get to two hours,” Johnson said.
And the two-hour moment these women have been training for has finally arrived and a champion will be crowned. Puck drop is set for 11:10 p.m. ET.
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Beijing 2022? Visit TeamUSA.org/Beijing-2022-Olympic-Games to view the competition schedule, medal table and results.
Scott Charles is a sportswriter whose work has been featured in the Associated Press, various NBC platforms and Yahoo! Sports among other places. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org and you can follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.