Canada’s women’s hockey Olympic team was dominant from the drop of the puck in Beijing and they were rewarded with a fifth gold medal on Wednesday in Beijing after defeating the United States 3-2 to close another riveting chapter in the nations’ storied rivalry which has stood for 164 games.
After capturing their first gold medal at the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship since 2012 in August, Team Canada also returned to the top of the podium at the Olympics four years following a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the Americans in Pyeongchang.
Best Canadian Team Ever
It’s no secret that Canada and the USA have been great for a long time, but this year’s Canadian squad just might be the best team of all time. A perfect 7-0 record, 57 goals scored by 14 different skaters, every skater who played in a game registered at least one point, a .940 save percentage courtesy of Ann-Renée Desbiens and Emerance Maschmeyer, A 17% shooting percentage, a power play that converted 41% of the time, and 90% success rate on the penalty kill. With numbers like these, Team USA deserves credit for keeping the gold medal contest as close as it was.
Beyond the statistics, the Canadians played an up-tempo style, were aggressive and persistent in all three zones, and controlled play more often than not. Their quick transition game allowed their offensive stars to shine.
Canada has always set the standard in women’s hockey and this team raised the bar again with their showing in Beijing.
Speaking of the best, captain Marie-Philip Poulin further cemented her legacy as the greatest female player of all time and one of Canada’s greatest Olympians.
Scoring in big games is practically automatic for her. With two more goals against the Americans on Wednesday night, she became the only hockey player, male or female, to score in four Olympic gold medal games. She’s also now potted three game-winning goals and seven total tallies during her illustrious career when gold is on the line.
Most importantly, Poulin’s leadership brought her team together during trying times amid the COVID-19 pandemic with one goal in mind: to erase the painful memories from 2018 and recapture Olympic glory. Mission accomplished for Canada and ‘Captain Clutch’.
Breaking Records and Barriers
With a goal and an assist in the gold medal game, Sarah Nurse broke fellow Canadian Hayley Wickenheiser’s record for most points in one Olympic tournament with 18 and became Canada’s newest star athlete in the process. She actually started the event on the third line until an injury suffered by Mélodie Daoust opened the door for more opportunities. She is the first Black woman to play hockey at the Olympics and now the first to capture gold.
Nurse and Poulin weren’t the only Canadians to establish new records in Beijing. Claire Thompson finished with 13 points, the most-ever put up by a defenceman.
Meanwhile, the key to any championship team is great goaltending and Desbiens delivered that in spades. She made 38 saves in Canada’s gold medal triumph and combined for 89 stops in both games against the United States. The netminder made a crucial, sprawling save early in the first period of the gold medal tilt that set the tone for the remainder of the game.
Beyond the medals and the accolades, these remarkable women proved once again that they don’t just belong on the sport’s biggest stage but that they also own it, attracting millions of viewers throughout the tournament. Women’s hockey is a marquee Olympic event, but the game and its players deserve the spotlight for more than one week every four years. The performances in Beijing need to serve as a springboard to elevate the sport to new heights and make it visible year-round so that the next generation can continue to be inspired and discover new heroes to who they can easily relate.
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Melissa has been covering the Montreal Canadiens for The Hockey Writers since March of 2020. She is also THW’s Social Media & Marketing Manager as well as co-host of Chicks & Sticks, a weekly show produced by THW. In 2006, she spearheaded the social media initiatives for Tennis Canada and Rogers Cup and was the primary person responsible for their upkeep for over 10 years. She has written articles for multiple tennis websites and interviewed the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams. While her career in sports started in tennis, her first love has always been hockey. She has a journalism degree from Concordia University.