Szabados and Team Canada Win Gold

SOCHI, Russia – Marie-Philip Poulin (Beauceville, Que./Boston University, HE) scored with 55 seconds left in regulation, and again at 8:55 in overtime, as Canada’s National Women’s Team won its fourth straight Olympic gold medal with a thrilling 3-2 comeback win over the United States.

With the Americans serving a cross-checking penalty, the players had plenty of room to manoeuver on the four-on-three power play. Canada passed the puck around the zone, slowly creeping closer to the U.S. goal. When the puck reached Poulin, an open net awaited her.

“It’s the best feeling ever,” Poulin told CBC Sports after the game. “It’s a dream come true. It’s unreal. We just wanted to play our game and it was such a team effort. We never gave up today.”

It was the gold medal matchup everyone expected to see. It was the game everyone wanted to see. And it was a game that managed to live up to all of its hype.

The Americans came out flying early, using their superior speed to create plenty of early scoring chances. Shannon Szabados (Edmonton, Alta./Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, ACAC), made her 50th career appearance for Canada’s National Women’s Team, along with several spectacular saves to prevent her team from falling into an early deficit.

The U.S got on the board first, 12 minutes into the second. Meghan Duggan picked up the loose puck in the face-off circle and beat a screened Szabados, high glove side.

The Americans played a tight-checking and aggressive game throughout. By the end of the second period Canada had only 17 shots on net, but it seemed at least as many had been blocked by the defence.

Early momentum in the third fell to the Americans. Tara Watchorn (Newcastle, Ont./Calgary, CWHL) was whistled for her third minor penalty of the game seven seconds into the period. Alex Carpenter, unmarked by the far post, tipped in a Hilary Knight pass to put her team up 2-0.

Looking for a way to grab momentum, Team Canada head coach Kevin Dineen began shortening his bench and juggling his lines.

It worked.

After being held off the scoreboard for the first 56 minutes of the game, Canada finally made a dent in the U.S. defence. Meaghan Mikkelson (St. Albert, Alta./Calgary, CWHL) – broken hand and all – passed the puck off the boards, where Brianne Jenner (Oakville, Ont./Cornell University, ECAC) picked it up and skated toward the goal. Her shot deflected off an American defender and over the goalie’s glove. It was the first point of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games for both players.

The Canadians continued to push for the equalizer. With under a minute to go and Szabados on the bench, Rebecca Johnston (Sudbury, Ont./Toronto, CWHL) won the puck battle along the boards behind the net. Her pass found Poulin waiting out front.

With the win, Canada ran its Olympic winning streak to 20 games, stretching across four Olympic Winter Games.