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For some players, Wednesday’s Canada vs. U.S. game, set for 11:10 p.m. ET, will be their first shot at gold. For others, it’s the latest of many. For all, it’s a test of the comradeship they’ve been building in Beijing

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Canadian women's hockey players gather before a Feb. 14 game against Switzerland at the Beijing Olympics. They won the semifinal, advancing to a showdown for gold on Feb. 18.Petr David Josek/The Associated Press


On the night of the women’s hockey gold medal game at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, Emma Maltais stayed up until the wee hours with her college teammates in a dorm room at Ohio State University.

Everyone was glued to the game on TV. Then an 18-year-old freshman hockey player for the Buckeyes, the Burlington, Ont., native was cheering for Canada, while many of her friends were pulling for the United States. She was pumped to see her idol Marie-Philip Poulin score a big goal, but then crushed to watch the Canadians lose 3-2 in a dramatic shootout.

Little did Maltais know that four years later she would be Poulin’s teammate, and part of the Canadian squad trying to win back that Olympic gold medal.

Canada has played in every Olympic gold medal final since women’s hockey was added at the 1998 Nagano Games. A small handful of well-recognized veterans on this team have played in several finals – four in Poulin’s case.

But 10 of the Canadian women – including Maltais – will compete in their first Olympic gold medal final on Thursday afternoon in Beijing, or late night Wednesday back in Canada.

“Watching the shoutout was just crazy, I remember the excitement I had in that moment,” said Maltais. “So I can’t wait. I can’t even believe I’m a part of it right now.”

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Emma Maltais celebrates scoring Canada's ninth goal against the Swiss in the Beijing Games semi-final.Annegret Hilse/Reuters

She’s been dreaming of this for a long time, and taking in every chapter of the rivalry along the way.

Maltais recalls having the basement to herself at the age of 14 to watch the 2014 Sochi Olympics gold medal game, getting a few days off school after suffering a broken wrist. She screamed when Poulin scored the game-tying goal and the overtime winner as well to complete the dramatic come-from-behind win.

“I just remember thinking like, wow, I would give anything to be there and to be a part of that,” said Maltais.

Maltais is a fourth-liner for Canada. She grins when reminded that Poulin was a fourth-line forward for Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics when she scored twice in the 2-0 win over the U.S. for gold.

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Team Canada tries to break through the Swiss defence at a Feb. 14 semi-final; Jamie Lee Rattray celebrates scoring the team's second goal.David W Cerny/Reuters

There are more young stars, like hot-scoring Sarah Fillier and tough blueliner Claire Thompson.

There’s Jamie Lee Rattray, who played for Team Canada at other big events, but was never in the mix for an Olympics until this one.

There are players getting a shot at an Olympic medal now who went through the centralization camp for that 2018 team, but got cut late, including defenders Micah Zandee-Hart and Erin Ambrose.

Zandee-Hart recalls staying up late as a 19-year-old to watch it on TV from Cornell University, where she was playing at the time. She still felt the bond she had established with those women during tryouts.

“It was heartbreaking to see my teammates crying on the blueline after the game, but it was a moment that I knew I didn’t want to see again,” said Zandee-Hart.

“It was always motivation for me to come back four years later and be a part of that team.”

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Natalie Spooner talks to family members on a video call after the Feb. 14 semi-final match.Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

They’ve had musical Zooms with the rock band Arkells. They’ve done pottery together, and knitting. Their roommate combos in Beijing are a mixture of vets and Olympic newbies.

During practices in Beijing, they whoop and cheer during every drill – teasing one another, cheering the pucks they put in the net, hollering and laughing. The ice time schedule is tightly controlled at the Games, so the players are dressed and eagerly waiting for the countdown on the videoboard that tells them when they can enter the practice ice.

On Wednesday, for their final practice before the gold medal game, they sat on the bench and counted down the final few seconds loudly before their 60 minutes of practice time officially began at the Wukesong Arena practice rink. They hollered out the seconds and then jumped over the boards and swung open the gates with glee. Someone yelled out, “Happy New Year,” followed by laughter.

“The vibe is really, really good,” said Maltais. “We’re all just very close. They allow us to be ourselves.”


The Decibel: Rachel Brady on the Canada-U.S. rivalry

When Canada and the United States compete for women’s hockey gold in Beijing, it’ll be the sixth time the two countries have met in the finals. Sports reporter Rachel Brady speaks with The Decibel about the historic rivalry. Subscribe for more episodes.

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How is hockey played at the Olympics? 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)

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