International Ice Hockey Federation

WW Top 25 Stories: #1

WW Top 25 Stories: #1

Canada’s golden goal wins gold in Sochi

Published 04.04.2015 10:07 GMT+2 | Author Andrew Podnieks
20 February 2014. Team USA had put itself in a superb position to win gold in Sochi. It had won gold in four of the last five Women’s Worlds.

It had a coach in Katey Stone who had been with the program for several years, giving the players a feeling of comfort and continuity. It had emphasized a younger and faster lineup than Canada, going with speed and skill over veteran presence and experience.

Canada beat the U.S., 3-2, in the preliminary-round game, but the Americans could discount the importance of that game because of a controversial goal that helped the Canadians. By the time of the gold-medal game, both teams were firing on all cylinders, and it was anyone’s guess which team would win.

The first period was scoreless, but the U.S. had by far the better of play, and Shannon Szabados had to be sharp in the Canada goal. In the second, Meghan Duggan scored at 11:57 to give the U.S. a vital lead.

Canada had the only three power plays of the period but could generate few quality scoring chances thanks to perfect defence from the Americans, and when Alex Carpenter scored early in the third to make it 2-0, it looked like the U.S. was about to erase the disappointment of three straight Olympics without gold.

The Americans used their speed and skill to neutralize Canada, and even with five minutes remaining that 2-0 lead looked absolutely airtight. But with 3:26 remaining, Brianne Jenner scored for Canada to ignite the entire bench.

It was a lucky goal. There is no other way to describe it. Jenner took a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle, and the puck, which was going wide, hit American defender Kacey Bellamy on the knee and went in over the glove of Jessie Vetter.

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“I didn't see it at all,” Bellamy said. “I looked back and it was in the net. When that happens, you just try to keep your head up, bounce back, and keep going into the next play."

The rest of the game was all about Canadian emotion versus American resilience. The U.S. still had the lead, and Canada still had to do the catching up.

With time getting scarce, Canada’s coach Kevin Dineen pulled Szabados. The puck was in the U.S. end and came to Catherine Ward at the point, but a linesman got tangled up with her and the puck landed on the stick of Kelli Stack. Stack fired a shot down the ice in one quick motion, trying just to get the puck deep, and the puck rolled towards the goal.

It rolled and rolled as fans hollered with anticipation of a gold-medal clinching, empty-net goal.

The puck hit the post.

Canada got the puck and moved back into the U.S. end where Rebecca Johnston fired a pass through the slot. Vetter redirected the puck, but it landed on the stick of Marie-Philip Poulin, who made no mistake with her close-in chance, tying the game with 54.6 seconds left in regulation time. The Canadians were ecstatic and the Americans were utterly dumb-founded.

The heart-pounding overtime then saw three quick penalties. Canada got the first, and then the U.S. incurred a minor to even manpower. Then, in trouble in its own end, Canada somehow got possession and Hayley Wickenheiser ended up with a breakaway literally from her own slot. Hilary Knight chased her down and got her stick tangled in Wickenheiser’s skate near centre ice, and the referee put her arm up.

At first it looked like a call for a penalty shot, but instead she sent Knight off for cross-checking. On the ensuing 4-on-3 power play, Poulin connected to give Canada a 3-2 win and its fourth straight Olympic gold.

Canada truly had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, and the Americans stood in stunned silence after the game unable to understand how they had lost a game in which they were the superior team for 56 minutes.

It was, quite simply, the best women’s game ever played. Given the circumstance and pressure, the drama and how events unfolded, it is impossible to imagine so many twists of plot and emotions and fate playing such big roles in one game.

This was the very apotheosis of women’s hockey in the first 25 years of the game’s existence in the IIHF.

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of women's hockey in the IIHF, writer Andrew Podnieks is counting down the top 25 stories in women's international hockey history. One story each day will appear until the Number 1 story is unveiled the morning of the gold-medal game of the 2015 Women's Worlds in Malmo, Sweden, on April 4.

Earlier Top 25 Stories:
#2: Sweden’s ‘Mirakel’ produces Olympic silver
#3: USA wins first Olympic gold
#4: Switzerland comeback earns historic medal
#5: First women inducted into IIHF Hall of Fame
#6: Women’s hockey becomes an Olympic event
#7: Rider organizes an international tournament
#8: 15-year-old Wickenheiser makes her debut
#9: USA finally wins WW gold in 2005
#10: Lightning strikes for Manon of the crease
#11: 15-year-old Martin leads Sweden to bronze
#12: Angela James cut prior to Nagano
#13: Amanda Kessel misses 2014/15 with concussion
#14: IIHF removes body-checking from women’s hockey
#15: Jenni Hiirikoski becomes first Euro two-timer
#16: Former NHLer Yashin leads Russian women to bronze
#17: Cammi Granato cut before Turin
#18: Visitors win twice in North American finals
#19: IIHF makes Women’s Worlds official for 1990
#20: Rogge issues challenge to women’s hockey
#21: IIHF goes to all-women officials
#22: Shannon Miller recruits Euros for NCAA
#23: IIHF introduces junior event for women
#24: Zorn a goalie and skater both
#25: Russia-Switzerland a dandy display in 2011


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