Canadian women look for 4th straight Olympic gold against arch-rival U.S.
Team Canada beat the U.S. 3-2 during preliminary rounds
The time has finally arrived.
The women’s Olympic hockey main event in Sochi is set for Thursday at noon ET (CBC TV, cbc.ca/olympics).
And the combination of "women’s hockey" and "main event" automatically brings up two nations: Canada and the United States.
The longtime rivals will headline the Olympic final for the fourth time in five Winter Games. Canada leads Team USA in the series 2-1.
In fact, the Canadian women have been an Olympic gold-medal machine following a silver performance at the 1998 Nagano Games. Their opponent that year? The Americans.
Canada has dominated the Olympic stage ever since, winning gold in Salt Lake City 2002, Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010.
In Sochi, the Canucks defeated Finland and cruised past Switzerland twice (group stage and semifinals.)
They also claimed a win against the U.S. during the preliminary round, but that won’t mean anything on Thursday.
However, the Canadian team won only two out of six games in their pre-Olympic series.
'It's going to be a battle'
"It's going to be a battle. It always is when we play against them,” said Canadian forward Meghan Agosta. “But we've been training for this all year and we are prepared. It doesn't matter what happened when we beat them in the preliminary round.
"They are a great team. We won't worry about what has gone on before. It's time to focus on one game and the gold medal."
Team USA followed a similar path. The reigning IIHF world champions have been crushing opponents since the start of the tournament with easy wins over Finland, Switzerland and Sweden. They scored 20 goals in four games.
The team’s only hiccup of the tournament was a 3-2 loss to Canada. And the Americans will be looking for revenge at Bolshoy Ice Dome.
"After that game, we weren't happy,” said defenceman Monique Lamoureux. “Not necessarily because we just lost but because we knew we didn't play our best hockey by far."
It will be like a regular game against their fierce rivals, except gold is on the line this time around.
"That is the goal, to treat this like any other game, but in the end it is not like just any other game,” said forward Amanda Kessel. “This is what we have all worked for our entire lives."
Silver would be considered a great accomplishment for any other team except for the U.S., who are ready to snap the silver streak.
"The mood is good on the team. We are ready to go tomorrow,” Lamoureux said. “This is what we prepared for over the last four years and especially this last season for this one game."
"Every time we are competing for a gold medal it's against Canada. They get competitive, they get heated and we are all very passionate."
So as in every single Canada-U.S. game, expect fireworks and an intense war on ice between the two best teams in the world.