I’m no expert on Women’s hockey. I mean I know who most of the players are for Team Canada, and quite of few of the American players too. But I don’t watch many of the games, and especially in non Olympic years. But in Olympic years I start paying attention, and when the Olympics get here I’m a HUGE fan. Never though did I expect to see one of the best performances in Canadian hockey history like I did yesterday.
That’s right. This is up there with 72, 87, 2010, and 2002. As a good friend of mine who let’s just say KNOWS HIS SH*T said to me yesterday, “I would also put the World Junior semi’s in 09 up there, but yes it is in that class”. Point is, it was incredible. And made more incredible because of how it went down. Coming into these Olympics the US had pulled away from Canada a bit. We couldn’t beat them, they were quicker, and they were deeper. And sure Canada won in the round robin which was a huge confidence booster, but the Americans were still pretty big favourites (Canadian spelling for this one!)
Shannon Szabados was the reason Canada even had a chance to comeback in this one. She was absolutely incredible, specifically in the 1st where the Americans dominated the play, yet she held them scoreless and made several key saves throughout the game, and then stepped up huge again in OT. Despite her brilliance, Canada was still down 2. While they were putting pucks on net, they weren’t really generating much offensively. But the tougher things got, the better they played. 3:30 to go, still down 2 and when Jenner sniped (getting a friendly bounce) and you knew it was far from done. I didn’t celebrate much when Jenner scored, all I did was say to myself “game on!” That it was!
After avoiding what would have been a disaster with just over a minute left when Catherine Ward had the linesman take her out allowing an American attempt at the empty net. As was said all over twitter, that goal post was Canada’s best friend. And then, Marie-Philip Poulin stepped up. Now to give you an example of how little I know about our women’s team, I was saying a lot during this tournament “wasn’t that Poulin girl being touted as the Crosby of women’s hockey?” I couldn’t figure out why she had seemingly disappeared (being too stupid to know that she was hurt much of the season and still not near 100%). Well much like Sid in 2010, and much like…well…herself in 2010….Marie-Philip Poulin stepped up HUGE for Canada! She became a national hero.
And what a job by Kevin Dineen. Man, if you’re going to fail in life, fail up, and that’s what he did. This guy did a great job with a garbage roster in Florida in 2012. Before that, he was the hottest coaching prospect in the AHL with Portland. So we shouldn’t be shocked. But this team was an absolute mess when he walked through those doors just 2 months ago. And they don’t win without him. The way he ran that bench was incredible, and was very much so the equalizer for Canada.
As for the Americans, they choked….again. It’s brutal to say, especially when these women truly are amature athletes. But it’s just the fact of the matter. They had beat Canada 8 in a row going into the Gold medal game in 2002, at home, with as bias of a ref as I personally have ever seen in a hockey game. And they STILL couldn’t beat Canada. In 06, they choked against a far less talented Sweden team in the semi’s and had to settle for Bronze. 2010 they had been the better team yet again leading up to the tournament, and sure Canada had a huge home ice advantage in that Gold medal game, but the Americans really didn’t put up much of a fight in that game. And this was the worst choke of them all. These teams are too evenly matched for Canada to have won 4 straight Golds. But in sports you just see it all the time…sometimes, teams just can’t win the big games.
I’m sure glad Canada is on the other end of that. And a win like this will only enhance women’s hockey in this country. It was incredible to see the emotion that this game brought out in us. It wasn’t just me. A guy I work with who really couldn’t give a damn about hockey was asking me all about it after work today, and when I told him I was watching it on my phone he was ticked I didn’t tell him so he could watch too. Tim and Sid were not only hilarious on their show while watching the game today, but were as into it as anyone would be for the men’s game in 2010. You all certainly seen the shots from around the country when Poulin scored, it was amazing to see.
They were underdogs, they were all but finished, and they were as clutch as any team you will ever see. You always hear about “Canadian heart” and I’m sure I’m not the only one who sometimes rolls his eyes at how much that gets used, but that is exactly what won this hockey game. Congrats to our women’s team on their 4th straight Gold…I’m sure just like for the rest of the country, this one tastes just a little bit sweeter!
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