There might not be a more intense, reliable rivalry at these Olympics. Since 1998, most of the men's hockey Olympic team had been made up of NHL players. The Russians still have a chance for their first Olympic women's hockey medal ever when they play Finland in the bronze medal match on Wednesday. This is a rematch of their preliminary round contest in which Canada shut out OAR 5-0 in each team's Olympic opener in Pyeongchang.
But also remember that given the nature, history and intensity of the rivalry, it is one of the most anticipated finals of any team sport in the Games, summer or winter. The U.S. women's hockey team is here to save us. The final tally was 38-14, with Maddie Rooney in goal for Team USA.
Counting Thursday's Pyeongchang finale, five of those will have been against the United States.
"Seems like a decent plan", Coach Robb Stauber said. After 2014, we were on a team vacation in Mexico and there were people who knew exactly who we were. Canada beat the usa 2-1 in a preliminary round contest; players like Duggan and Knight and Lamoureux-Davidson have lost two straight gold medal games to Canada.
"It's something we've all dreamed about since we were little kids", forward Dani Cameranesi. "It's gone into overtime".
Slovenian hockey player Ziga Jeglic became the third athlete at the Pyeongchang Games to test positive for doping.
"Well, I think you have to understand who you are inside as a person and you can never get out-worked".
Both sides view parts of the past differently, perhaps not surprisingly, burying the pain and clinging to the hope.
But not all of these memories are warm ones for the Americans.
The U.S. and Canada have faced each other several times in the gold medal game. But helped along by its six-month "centralization", Canada gets it done in Olympic years. Kind of put that in our past at this point. It's outstanding to look back and go, 2010, we were there. That dictated what the Americans would spend practice focusing on in the four days leading up the semifinal: putting pucks to the net. They have bought into his "pucks on net" philosophy, outshooitng their opponents 175-74 through four games.
"We had, I think, our best game today".
Finland goalie Noora Raty, the former Gophers star who has been all-world for a long time, got little help from her teammates as the USA kept firing pucks at her. Team USA made them pay. "Every game is 50/50 going in, so just trying to sway the odds in our favor during the time of play".
"I keep sort of pinching myself, " Knight said.
The U.S. has beaten Canada in seven of the last eight world championship finals, while the Canadians have bested the Americans in two Olympic gold-medal games over the same time frame.
"We had a lot of point-blank scoring opportunities". We had to be ready to play.
Almost a year after threatening to strike in order to achieve a more fair and better contract with USA Hockey, which they did - just before the World Championships, which they won - these Americans know what they are chasing.
"Tonight we beat a very good goaltender and a very good hockey team", Stauber said.
If it's Canada that moves on, this will be the third consecutive Olympics in which the USA and Canada have met in the championship game of the tournament. I mean, that's a dream come true.
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