Women's hockey gold medal game a symphony of drama
Marie-Philip Poulin and Shannon Szabados make sweet music, again
Simon and Garfunkel. Hall and Oates. Poulin and Szabados.
They all make great music.
For the second consecutive Olympic Games, Marie-Philip Poulin scored two goals, including the game-winner, and goaltender Shannon Szabados was spectacular as Canada defeated the United States to win the gold medal in women's hockey.
This time they did it in the most spectacular fashion.
Four years ago in Vancouver Poulin scored both goals for Canada in a 2-0 win over the United States. She was just 18 years old.
Team USA held a 2-0 lead Thursday in the rematch and with time running out, appeared to be headed toward winning gold and handing Canada its first Olympic defeat since 1998.
However, Brianne Jenner scored at 16:34 of the third period to give Canada hope and then Poulin – the miracle worker – tied it at 19:05 with Szabados on the bench for an extra skater.
And that was just the beginning of the drama.
3-on-3 on the big ice
In overtime referee Joy Tottman of Great Britain penalized Canada’s Catherine ward for cross-checking – a good call – and then evened it up by penalizing Jocelyne Lamoureaux for slashing – a bad call.
Suddenly, the OT standard four-on-four dipped down to three-on-three – on the big ice!
Canadian superstar Hayley Wickenheiser found herself on a breakaway, but was pulled down. Suddenly a game that already had hockey fans from two nations on the edge of their seats hit new dramatic heights. Imagine, Hayley Wickenheiser playing in her fifth Olympic hockey tournament potentially deciding the game on a penalty shot.
But Tottman chickened out. She pointed to centre, as if calling a penalty shot, but sent Team USA’s Hilary Knight off for cross-checking.
That opened the door for Poulin to score her second goal of the game at 8:10 of overtime. Game. Set. Match.
Four years ago she scored the only two goals in a 2-0 victory, a game in which Szabados recorded the shutout.
Poulin was beside herself after scoring her second straight Olympic gold medal-winning goal.
“It’s unbelievable,” she said. “I still can’t believe it happened. We were down 2-0 with five minutes to go, but we kept our cool. It’s teamwork and everybody did their job.”
Watching the puck cross the goal line is something Poulin will never forget, but she wasn’t taking all the credit.
“It’s the reward for none of the girls giving up,” said Canada’s modern-day Paul Henderson. “I happened to score, but it’s the result of plays made by my teammates. A big thanks to them.”
Coaches lean on certain individuals that do special things at special times and Kevin Dineen is no different. Poulin, who has likely earned herself a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame (down the road), is one of those players.
“There’s something there with Pou,” Dineen said. “She doesn’t speak a lot, but I always catch her eyes and there’s something in her eyes that spells big-game player.”
Szabados shared the crease with Charline Labonte in Sochi, but with the gold medal on the line, Team Canada turned to her. Even when the United States was ahead 2-0 and time was ticking down, Szabados never lost faith. But the comeback took its toll.
“I am mentally and physically exhausted,” Szabados said. “A 2-0 deficit, even late in the game, isn’t a big one for these girls. The game was never over and we just concentrated right through to the final moment.”