United States & Canada Women’s Olympic Hockey Rivalry Revisited

*This was originally published before the 2022 Olympic gold medal game

There isn’t a rivalry in hockey that is more storied than the United States and Canada. Whether it’s the World Juniors, World Championships, or the Olympics, it’s a matchup that nobody wants to miss. The United States and Canada’s women’s hockey teams are set to face each other in the gold medal game of the 2022 Winter Olympics on Feb. 16.

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This is their fourth consecutive finals game where the United States is looking to defend their gold medal, and Canada is looking for redemption from the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang. With another historical game on the horizon, let’s revisit past Olympic games between these rivals.

Rooted in Nagano, Japan 1998

The United States and Canada’s women’s hockey rivalry at the Olympics started in 1998. This was the debut of women’s hockey at the Olympics, and it did not disappoint. Going into the Nagano, Japan, the United States, and Canada were the best hockey teams in the world for eight consecutive years, therefore, the fact that they were in the finals did not come as a surprise. The United States won 3-2 and took the gold, while Canada took silver. What made the game even sweeter for the United States was that they were the underdog in the game.

Canada came into the game having won five straight gold medals against the United States at the World Championships, making Canada the favorite to win the game. Besides the gold medal, the game was also significant because it was noted as the game that grew the game of hockey for women in the United States. A.J. Mleczko, a forward from the 1998 team, stated, “Our 1998 team certainly were trailblazers, but it wasn’t lost on us. There had been trailblazers before us who almost nobody knows. We broke through a glass ceiling and forged a path for the next generation.”

2002 Olympics: Salt Lake City, Utah

After the United States won the gold medal in the 1998 Olympics, they went on a nice run against Canada. They beat Canada eight times leading into the 2002 Olympics, yet Canada came in with a vengeance. They won the game 3-2 and took the gold. It was significant for Canada because it was their first Olympic gold medal in 50 years. When it comes to momentum, Danielle Goyette stated, “Someone said, ‘If you don’t come back with the gold, don’t come back.’ We wanted to come back home.” (from “OLYMPICS: WOMENS HOCKEY; Aggressive Canadiens Win Gold Over U.S.” – The New York Times- 02/22/2002)

Canada’s victory in that game is what started over two decades of dominance over the United States.

2006 Olympics: Turin, Italy

The 2006 Olympics was a fluke for this rivalry as it has been the only time that Canada and the United States did not meet in the gold medal game. The United States won the gold over Canada at the World Championship in 2005, making them a favorite. But, they were stunned by Sweden, who knocked them out of the gold medal game. Canada defeated Sweden 4-1 for the gold, with the USA taking bronze in a 4-0 win against Finland.

2010 Olympics: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

This Olympic matchup was epic because it signaled a huge boost for women’s hockey. The United States and Canada were back in the gold medal game, making history for two reasons. The first is that the gold medal game was attended by 16,347 fans, which was the largest Canadian crowd to watch a women’s hockey game. The second is that Canada defeated the United States 2-0 with both goals scored by Marie-Philip Poulin and a 28-save performance by goaltender Shannon Szabados.

Marie-Philip Poulin Team Canada
Marie-Philip Poulin Team Canada (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)

With the shutout, it was the lowest-scoring final in the Olympic games, and it is the only time that one of the two teams has ever faced a shutout in the Olympics. Canada could not have written that any better with a big win in front of their home crowd.

2014 Olympics: Sochi, Russia

Out of all the times that the United States and Canada had faced each other, this game was probably the hardest that the United States faced. To start, Canada won 3-2 in the preliminary round game against the USA, so the United States was going for the upset to win gold, and they had it in the palm of their hands.

Related: Team Canada Women’s Players to Watch at Beijing Olympics

The United States was winning the gold medal game 2-0 with a little over three minutes left in regulation. Canada’s Brianne Jenner scored a big goal to make it 2-1. With 1:33 left, Canada pulled the goalie for the extra attacker. The United States tried for the empty net that hit the goal post. With the goalie still pulled, Canada’s Rebecca Johnston got the tying goal with 54 seconds left in the period. In overtime, the United States’ Hillary Knight took a tripping penalty, which gave Canada a four-on-three. Poulin capitalized to win the game 3-2. The Canadians even stated that the game was the toughest of their professional lives.

2018 Olympics: PyeongChang, South Korea

Going into South Korea for the Olympics, all eyes were on if the United States could get past the heartbreaking sequence in Sochi four years prior. Canada defeated the United States 2-1 in the preliminary round, proving they had some work to do.

2018 USA Olympic Women's Hockey Team
USA’s Women’s Hockey team, 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics (Photo Credit: USA Hockey/Jeff Cable).

When it came to the gold-medal game, the United States scored first with a goal by Knight, but Canada ended up taking control afterward to score twice with goals from Haley Irwin and Poulin to make it 2-1. With six minutes left in the third period, the United States’ Monique Lamoureux-Morando scored to make it 2-2. Because overtime wasn’t enough to do this rivalry justice, they went to a shootout. Gigi Marvin, Amanda Kessel, and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson got the game-winning goals, while goaltender Maddie Rooney got the saves to defeat Canada and get the gold medal for the first time in 20 years.

2022 Olympics: Beijing, China

The United States and Canada are set up to have an amazing battle in Beijing. They faced each other in the preliminary round, with Canada defeating the USA 4-2. The matchup felt like the finals, as both sides showed a lot of physicality and skill to make this gold-medal game a must-watch event. Canada is currently undefeated. The United States has only lost once, which was to Canada.

Related: 2022 Olympic Women’s Hockey Preview: Team USA Looks to Repeat

Although Canada currently holds a 4-2 record in gold medals against the United States, the USA has defeated Canada nine out of the past 11 times at the World Championships. Even though that hasn’t always translated to the Olympic stage, it shows that the tides haven’t always favored Canada, making this gold medal game even more significant. The United States has improved year by year at the Olympics, while Canada has always remained a powerhouse. This could go either way, and both have scores to settle.

When talking about the rivalry, Knight said it best when she stated, “It’s wonderful hockey, it’s the most beautiful rivalry in sports. It gets the best and the worst out of both of us at the same time. It’s a wonderful game.”

And with that, we go!