Canada Wins Gold in Women’s Olympic Hockey Final
Led by Marie-Philip Poulin, the Canadian Olympic women’s hockey team reclaimed gold after defeating the United States 3-2 at the Women’s Olympics Hockey Final in Beijing.
Poulin, a four-time Olympian and two-time World Champion from Beauceville, Quebec, was instrumental in Canada’s win over the U.S. The team captain scored twice during the finals, the first coming with 4:58 remaining in the first period and the second, the game winner at 10:52 in the second period.
At 30 years of age, Poulin has scored in each of the four Olympic finals she has played for Canada and racked up a total of seven goals during her time on the ice. For Canadian teammate Brianne Jenner, Poulin is a superstar with and without the puck and is a great leader.
” We’re happy to follow Pou wherever she’s going to take us. Canada is a hockey nation and hopefully we’ve given everyone a reason to celebrate back home.”
For the thirteen veteran players on the team like Rebecca Johnston, who experienced the heartbreak of defeat at the last winter games, the victory over the American’s was bittersweet after losing to the U.S. during a shootout at the South Korean Olympics in Pyeongchang.
“Losing in 2018 was an awful feeling and we wanted to regain that podium and win that gold medal. Just a lot of emotions.”
Canadian goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens played a major role in keeping the U.S. at bay, stopping 38 shots. Desbiens made 38 saves for the win Thursday. Desbiens withstood an onslaught of activity in the crease during the final minutes of the game after Poulin was handed a penalty for hooking.
After the U.S pulled goalie Alex Cavallini during the final minutes to give them a two-player advantage, Amanda Kessel managed to score with 12 seconds remaining to bring the U.S to within one goal of tying the game.
However, that dream slipped away, and Team Canada emptied the bench and rushed onto the ice to begin celebrating their victory. This years team was the highest-scoring women’s Olympic team on record, outscoring their opponents 57 to 10.
Much of this success came from head coach Troy Ryan giving the team the freedom to play without worrying about making mistakes. The Canadian women outskated, out passed and outshot their opponents from the first game.
For Sarah Nurse, who scored Canada’s first goal in the final on Monday, their ability to quickly transfer from offence to defence left opponents constantly chasing them.
“I think that we’ve completely changed women’s hockey from an offensive standpoint”
While the Americans started out strong and outshot Canada 40 to 21, they were unable to control the pressure applied by Canada in the offensive zone. It wasn’t until the last in the second period before Hilary Knight scored for the Americans.
The U.S. were also unable to capitalize on scoring opportunities, with a shot from Alex Carpenter hitting the crossbar and one by Cayla Barnes hitting the post. For Amanda Kessel, the loss was a tough pill to swallow.
“It stings for a while, I won’t forget this, probably forever. I am really proud of our team to keep fighting all game long.”
For Canada, the women’s Olympic team rewrote the book, not only in tournament goals but in how they managed line changes as a result of injuries. After Melodie Daoust suffered an injury that saw her unable to play, Sarah Nurse joined Poulin and Brianne Jenner as their linemate, and her playmaking skills were unprecedented.
Nurse, who hails from Hamilton, Ontario, earned eighteen points during the tournament to break a record Hayley Wickenheiser held since 2010. Jenner was also named as the tournaments most valuable player for her nine goals.
And to top it off, Marie-Philip Poulin and Rebeca Johnston became three-time gold medallists with wins in 2010, 2014 and 2022. Commenting post-game on the achievement, Poulin believes every medal is a different story.
” They’re unique. This is a special one,” Poulin said. “The veterans who have been here since 2018, they felt that loss in the shootout. It was a hard one for all of us. We came back together. We were ready to go.”
It didn’t help that the Canadian women had to deal with restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic, Poulin said they relied on Zoom calls, isolated in hotel rooms together, they overcame, got to know each other.
“We put the hard work in from a lot of Zoom calls, to having camps cancelled, having world championships being cancelled, but still being able to go to work in our basement gym, or at our computers at home, putting families aside, friends aside to really put the work in,” the captain said. We’ve had many video sessions to create more offence, and it showed in this tournament all around.”
That hard work started in July when the Canadian women’s team arrived in Calgary to prepare for fitness testing. After recording their highest scores in fitness, they defeated the U.S. in August during the postponed final of the World Championship.
After watching the Canadian women’s soccer team win gold, the Canadian women were inspired and often talked about what a great time it is for women in Canada. That sediment was not lost on Canada’s soccer coach, Bev Priestman, who spoke to the women’s hockey team before the girls hit the ice.
“It was really close to my heart because I’ve seen how our group inspired them to go and beat the U.S.”
For now, all that is left for the Canadian women is to celebrate their successful run at the Beijing Olympics and wait to see what the future brings.