Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday February 18, 2022
Canada beats rival U.S. to reclaim Olympic women’s hockey supremacy
Canada waited four long years for Olympic women’s hockey redemption.
In 2019, it failed to even reach the final of the world championship. That’s when the countdown began — literally.
General manager Gina Kingsbury gave each team member a clock displaying the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the 2022 Olympics.
Now, after the clocks hit zero, there’s Olympic gold medals around Canadian necks once more after beating the U.S. 3-2 on Thursday in Beijing to claim their first title since 2014.
Captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored twice — including her third career Olympic game-winning goal — while Sarah Nurse’s goal and assist pushed her past Canadian great Hayley Wickenheiser for most points in a single tournament with 18.
It was quite the journey even since the clocks were distributed. Canada won its first worlds since 2010 in August. Last October, it centralized with a group of 29 players in Calgary to prepare for six months for the Beijing Olympics. In January, that centralization became a bubble following a COVID-19 breakout.
“We were looking at that clock all the time,” forward Natalie Spooner said. “We had it in our houses, and even through COVID we obviously weren’t able to be together for a lot of that time.
“So we had that clock there to make sure we did our own work on those off days to make sure we were ready when we came back as a team.”
All that work paid off in Beijing.
In her second Games, Nurse can finally call herself an Olympic champion.
“Coming off of 2018 and having that silver medal, it felt like the weight of the world on our shoulders. And having this gold, it’s gonna feel as light as ever,” Nurse said.
Canada suffered a shocking shootout loss to the U.S. in the 2018 final, ending a run of four consecutive gold medals and sending the Canadians home without gold for the first time since 1998.
That’s where the drive to Beijing began, the sting of that defeat never quite going away until it was rectified on women’s hockey’s biggest stage.
The Hamilton, Ont., native opened the scoring in the first period, deflecting a point shot from defender Claire Thompson past American netminder Alex Cavallini, who made 18 saves.
The goal came just moments after it appeared Canada had already gone ahead on a rebound goal by Spooner. However, a coach’s challenge from the U.S. revealed it was offside.
“It was funny. Nursey came up to me on the bench and said, ‘I owe you one, I was offside’, and then she goes out and scores. I was like, ‘Thanks, you got it back for us,'” Spooner said.
Poulin extended the Canadian lead when she pickpocketed an American player in the offensive zone before sneaking a slot shot into the back of the net to send her team into the first break up 2-0.
She added her second midway through the second period when she capitalized on a rebound following a rush led by Nurse. (CBC)