Skip to main content

Ann-Renée Desbiens made 51 saves in the game, setting a record for most stops by a Canadian goaltender in an Olympic contest

Goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens of Team Canada faces off against Kendall Coyne Schofield and Hannah Brandt of the United States at the Wukesong Sports Centre in Beijing on Feb. 8.Song Yanhua/Reuters


Meeting in an Olympic contest for the first time in four years, the U.S women’s hockey team outshot the Canadians 53-27 in Beijing on Tuesday.

But it was Canada that won the game – late Monday and into early Tuesday back home after many fans had likely gone to bed.

Ann-Renée Desbiens made 51 saves in a 4-2 Canadian victory – several of them spectacular. She set a record for most stops by a Canadian goaltender – male or female – in an Olympic contest.

“We’ll definitely have to get her coffee in the morning,” Canadian teammate Sarah Nurse said after the game.

It was Canada’s final game of the preliminary round at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but its first at the Games against the Americans, the reigning Olympic champs.

Brianne Jenner notched a pair of goals for Canada, Jamie Lee Rattray added one and Marie-Philip Poulin scored on a penalty shot.

But it didn’t look so hot for Canada in the early going. The Canadians had trouble meeting the Americans’ fire – they required a different gear to play with the U.S. after crushing their first three opponents in Beijing by a combined score of 29-3.

The Canadian women were plagued by turnovers and the Americans pressed them in their own end for most of the first period.

The two foes were both undefeated heading into the contest. It was the ninth meeting between them at an Olympics, a series Canada controlled 5-2-1. The rivals have combined to win all seven Olympic tournaments. At all but one of those (when Sweden earned silver in 2006), Canada and the U.S have played for gold. They expect to do so again in Beijing.

Canada wins its pool. Now the teams await their opponents for the quarter-finals, which start later this week.

Canada's Marie-Philip Poulin and Brianne Jenner of Canada in action with Amanda Kessel of Team USA.Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

There were small pockets of local fans at the game. It wasn’t the best contest in the history of their rivalry, but it was still a shame to play it before an almost empty house, especially since these two teams meet so infrequently in major international events.

This is a rivalry that’s meant to fill stadiums.

It’s a show that should be appreciated live and up close – the speed of the skating, the precision of hands, the whistling pucks, crunching bodies and flaring tempers, the shoving and the snowing. This game ached for ardent fans in jerseys waving flags, even if it was just a preliminary round contest.

The atmosphere at Wukesong Sports Centre was a blend of Beijing and North America. Dieter Ruehle, the organist for hockey’s Los Angeles Kings and baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, performed live, playing a medley of eclectic hits – everything from Hotel California to the Welcome Back, Kotter theme song.

The game had dancers throughout the arena performing in traditional Chinese costumes.

Arena staff attached a small light wand to the arm of every seat inside the Wukesong arena, so the stands pulsed with small polka dots of lights during breaks of play – sometimes lighting up the arena like a video game.

Desbiens deflects a shot by Abbey Murphy of the United States.Petr David Josek/The Associated Press

The U.S flashed, too, with a flurry of shots in the first period, including a big chance by Abbey Murphy that zipped over a sprawling Desbiens but bounced off the post and out. Desbiens continued kicking and stretching and pouncing on rebounds, keeping the Americans off the board.

It was the first pressure the Canadians had faced from any opponent in the tournament. They coughed up turnovers and struggled through long stretches in their own zone. Then suddenly a foolish penalty by the U.S stopped the rival’s momentum cold.

U.S defender Caroline Harvey cross-checked Sarah Fillier into the boards and left her team short-handed. That set the stage for Jenner’s first goal, banged in on the power play off a tic-tac-toe passing sequence between Poulin and Fillier.

A small contingent of Canadian Olympic Committee staff were the only people visibly cheering, including chef de mission Catriona Le May Doan, who banged on a drum.

Despite being outshot 16-5 and largely outhustled, Canada took a 1-0 lead into the dressing room after the first period, thanks largely to Desbiens. Her teammates felt grateful.

“She is the best goalie in the world,” said Natalie Spooner.

Team Canada goes in for a celebratory huddle.David W Cerny/Reuters

The Americans kept coming in the second period, and evened the game quickly, as Dani Cameranesi banged in her own rebound behind Desbiens. They quickly scored again, with Alex Carpenter slipping by the Canadian defence and burying a back-hand shot upstairs on Desbiens.

Then it was Canada’s turn to answer with two fast goals, by Jenner again and then Rattray.

The neck-and-neck nature of this rivalry always shines through.

Late in the second period, Poulin charged in on a breakaway and U.S. defender Cayla Barnes reached out her stick to try and stop the Canadian captain, interfering with her stride. The referee called a penalty shot – the first in regulation for women at the Olympics. Poulin glided in with a wide-sweeping approach, and sniped a forehand into the net for a two-goal Canadian lead.

There were no dramatic skirmishes in this game, as this rivalry has often provided over the years – just some mini-flashes of the animosity between the foes, such as U.S forward Hannah Brandt getting up in Rebecca Johnston’s face after the Canadian fired the puck on net after an off-side whistle.

The U.S. had a huge power-play opportunity late in the game. The Americans called goalie Maddie Rooney to the bench and threw out the extra skater with more than two minutes left to try and capitalize on a 6-4 advantage.

Canada killed it off for the win.

“Shots don’t win games,” lamented U.S. coach Joel Johnson of the lopsided shot numbers, 53-27. “Goals do.”

Desbiens enjoyed the busy workload.

“I enjoy it personally, but from a team perspective, that’s not the kind of game you want to have too often,” the Canadian goaltender said with a laugh. “But selfishly, it’s fun.”

With the victory, Canada extended its winning streak in preliminary Olympic rounds to 19 games, dating back to 2002.


How is Olympic hockey played? A visual guide

BEIJING 2022

SCHEDULE

Qualification

Medal

FEBRUARY

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

A fast, fluid and exciting team sport, ice hockey draws big crowds thanks to the drama and tension of the matches. The sport originated in Canada, migrated south to the United States during the 1890s and spread to Europe at the turn of the century.

Ice hockey made its debut at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp with a men's competition but moved permanently to the winter programme at Chamonix 1924. Women’s ice hockey made its debut at Nagano 1998.

THE GAME

Three 20-minute periods of play. Teams change ends after each period.

TWO TEAMS

Six-a-side

Helmet

Visor

Gloves

Shin pads

worn under socks

Puck

Skates

THE RINK

Minimum standard for international contest is 60 metres in length and 29 metres in width

Right

Defence

Goalie

Goal

1.2m high by

1.8m wide

Right

Wing

Left

Defence

Center

Left

Wing

Tempered glass

or acrylic rink shields

EQUIPMENT

Sticks

Made of wood, aluminium or plastic

Player’s stick

163 cm

Goalie’s stick

Puck

Made of vulcanised rubber or other approved material

7.6 cm

THE GOALIE

One of the most valuable players on the ice. Shots on goal regularly exceed 100 mph so goalies must wear special equipment to protect them from direct impact.

Shots on goal

Five key areas the goalie must cover

1

Stick side high

Glove side high

3

2

4

4

5

Stick side low

The five hole

Glove side low

PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT

1

Helmet with mask

2

Blocker

A rectangular pad with a glove to hold the stick. Protects the wrist area and used to direct shots away from goal

3

Trapper

Catching glove

4

Leg pads

5

Goalie stick

Thick flat edge to better cover the “five hole”

SOURCE: REUTERS

BEIJING 2022

SCHEDULE

Qualification

Medal

FEBRUARY

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

A fast, fluid and exciting team sport, ice hockey draws big crowds thanks to the drama and tension of the matches. The sport originated in Canada, migrated south to the United States during the 1890s and spread to Europe at the turn of the century.

Ice hockey made its debut at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp with a men's competition but moved permanently to the winter programme at Chamonix 1924. Women’s ice hockey made its debut at Nagano 1998.

THE GAME

Three 20-minute periods of play. Teams change ends after each period.

TWO TEAMS

Six-a-side

Helmet

Visor

Gloves

Shin pads

worn under socks

Puck

Skates

THE RINK

Minimum standard for international contest is 60 metres in length and 29 metres in width

Right

Defence

Goalie

Goal

1.2m high by

1.8m wide

Right

Wing

Left

Defence

Center

Left

Wing

Tempered glass

or acrylic rink shields

EQUIPMENT

Sticks

Made of wood, aluminium or plastic

Player’s stick

163 cm

Goalie’s stick

Puck

Made of vulcanised rubber or other approved material

7.6 cm

THE GOALIE

One of the most valuable players on the ice. Shots on goal regularly exceed 100 mph so goalies must wear special equipment to protect them from direct impact.

Shots on goal

Five key areas the goalie must cover

Stick side high

Helmet with mask

Glove side high

Trapper

Catching glove

Leg pads

Glove side low

Goalie stick

Thick flat edge to better cover the “five hole”

Stick side low

The five hole

Blocker

A rectangular pad with a glove to hold the stick. Protects the wrist area and used to direct shots away from goal

SOURCE: REUTERS

BEIJING 2022

FEBRUARY

SCHEDULE

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

Qualification

Medal

A fast, fluid and exciting team sport, ice hockey draws big crowds thanks to the drama and tension of the matches. The sport originated in Canada, migrated south to the United States during the 1890s and spread to Europe at the turn of the century.

Ice hockey made its debut at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp with a men's competition but moved permanently to the winter programme at Chamonix 1924. Women’s ice hockey made its debut at Nagano 1998.

Helmet

Visor

THE GAME

Three 20-minute periods of play.

Teams change ends after

each period.

TWO TEAMS

Six-a-side

Gloves

Shin pads

worn under socks

Skates

Puck

THE RINK

Minimum standard for international contest is 60 metres in length and 29 metres in width

EQUIPMENT

Sticks

Made of wood, aluminium or plastic

Right

Defence

Goalie

Player’s

stick

Goal

1.2m high by

1.8m wide

163 cm

Right

Wing

Goalie’s

stick

Left

Defence

Center

Left

Wing

Puck

Made of vulcanised rubber or other approved material

Tempered glass

or acrylic rink shields

7.6 cm

THE GOALIE

One of the most valuable players on the ice. Shots on goal regularly exceed 100 mph so goalies must wear special equipment to protect them from direct impact.

Shots on goal

Five key areas the

goalie must cover

Stick side high

Helmet with mask

Goalie stick

Thick flat edge to better cover the “five hole”

Glove side high

Trapper

Catching glove

Leg pads

Blocker

A rectangular pad with a glove to hold the stick. Protects the wrist area and used to direct shots away from goal

Glove side low

The five hole

Stick side low

SOURCE: REUTERS

(Return to top)

Our Olympic team has a daily newsletter that lands in your inbox every morning during the Games. Sign up today to join us in keeping up with medals, events and other news.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

Check Following for new articles