The United States, losers of four straight Women’s World Championships to their rivals on Team Canada, captured the biggest women’s hockey title yet, winning the inaugural Olympic Gold Medal in women’s hockey in Nagano with a 3-1 victory, retaining the International Hockey Lineal Championship in the process.
Although the U.S. had dispatched Canada in the final Preliminary Round game with a 7-4 romp to win the IHLC, both teams came out for the Gold Medal Game much more conservatively, slowing down the pace to ensure mistakes and turnovers were limited. Both Sarah Tueting and Manon Rhéaume were sharp in net, penalties were kept to a minimum, and the first ended 0-0 with shots 9-8 in favour of Canada. The U.S. opened up the game in the second, capitalizing on a Nancy Drolet penalty to set up a rapid give-and-go between Sue Merz, Sandra Whyte and Gretchen Ulion, who wristed a feed from Whyte past Rhéaume to put the U.S. ahead 1-0.
The 1-0 score would hold up into the third period, as the U.S. defence held Canada to only four shots in the second, compared to another 11 from the U.S. While Canada came out firing in the third, Tueting remained on top of her game, keeping the U.S. ahead to allow them to double the lead ten minutes into the third, on a Shelley Looney redirect of a Whyte point shot to put the U.S. ahead 2-0 with 9:23 remaining.
Canada entered desperation mode at this point, and finally broke Tueting’s shutout with 4:01 to go, as Danielle Goyette knocked in a Hayley Wickenheiser behind-the-net pass on the power play to halve the deficit. But Tueting and the U.S. defensive attack were too much for Team Canada to overcome, and Whyte sealed the deal (and a three point night) with an empty net goal with eight seconds remaining, clinching women’s hockey’s first Olympic Gold for Team USA.
With the victory, the United States became the first women’s team to ever win an Olympic Gold Medal, and retained its eighth International Hockey Lineal Championship in the process. They are also the first team to unify Olympic Gold with the women’s IHLC since its inception in 1987 – for more, check out the IHLC @ Olympics & Invitationals page. This was also the 27th meeting between these rivals, who as of this point had met in the finals of all four previous Women’s World Championships (1990, 1992, 1994 and 1997), which Canada won all of.
Canada entered the Olympics as IHLC holders, winning the title from the U.S. in a pre-Olympic exhibition game in Colorado Springs in January. Canada defeated Japan, China, Sweden and Finland in Preliminary Round games, before losing to the U.S. 7-4 in the Preliminary Round final, where the U.S. won the IHLC. With the win in the Gold Medal Game, the U.S. retained the IHLC, and ensured they would hold the title into the Three Nations Cup in December.
08:57 – PEN – Mounsey, high sticking
17:00 – PEN – Campbell, holding
20:43 – PEN – Drolet, tripping
22:38 – PP GOAL – Ulion (Whyte, Merz)
34:09 – PEN – Coyne, holding
37:22 – PEN – Movsessian, tripping
49:37 – PEN – Goyette, body checking
50:57 – PP GOAL – Looney (Whyte, Ulion)
55:50 – PEN – Mounsey, body checking
55:59 – PP GOAL – Goyette (Wickenheiser, Heaney)
59:52 – EN GOAL – Whyte
W: Tueting (21-22)
L: Rhéaume (21-23)
SHOTS ON GOAL
8+11+5 = 24
9+4+9 = 22
Goaltenders: Sara DeCosta, Sarah Tueting. Defence: Chris Bailey (A), Colleen Coyne, Sue Merz, Tara Mounsey, Vicki Movsessian, Angela Ruggiero. Forwards: Laurie Baker, Alana Blahoski, Lisa Brown, Karyn Bye (A), Tricia Dunn, Cammi Granato (C), Katie King, Shelley Looney, Allison Mleczko, Jenny Schmidgall, Gretchen Ulion, Sandra Whyte.
Goaltenders: Lesley Reddon, Manon Rhéaume. Defence: Thérèse Brisson (A), Cassie Campbell, Judy Diduck, Geraldine Heaney, Becky Kellar, Fiona Smith. Forwards: Jennifer Botterill, Nancy Drolet, Lori Dupuis, Danielle Goyette, Jayna Hefford, Kathy McCormack, Karen Nystrom, Laura Schuler, France St-Louis, Vicky Sunohara (A), Hayley Wickenheiser, Stacy Wilson (C).