Skip to main content
olympics 2018

Goalie Shannon Szabados celebrates victory with Bailey Bram.GRIGORY DUKOR

It never gets old.

Canada will face the United States for gold in women's hockey – and even though this matchup could have been predicted months ago, the rebooting of one of the game's most electrifying rivalries means it's likely worth the wait.

Canada defeated Russia 5-0 in Pyeongchang Monday to advance to Thursday's gold-medal game against the Americans, who downed Finland 5-0 earlier in the day.

Canada-U.S. matchups are always heated, but the Olympics seem to elevate the rivalry from mere appointment-television to the kind of game people tell future generations about.

Arguably one of the greatest comebacks hockey has ever has seen, period, came four years ago in Sochi when Canada was trailing 2-0 in the gold medal game with less than four minutes remaining. After Canada scored once and pulled its goalie, a puck shot the length of the ice by a U.S. forward skidded toward the empty net and hit the post.

Had the goal gone in, it would have broken the stranglehold Canada has held on the gold medal since 2002.

Instead, Canada's Marie-Philip Poulin tied the game and scored again in overtime. It was Canada's fourth gold medal in a row, and the third time in that span the U.S. was forced to settle for silver.

The blown lead left the U.S. players bitter and vowing to avenge the loss in South Korea. The only time Canada hasn't taken the gold medal was when the U.S. won in Nagano in 1998, the first year women's hockey was played on Olympic ice.

But on a day when International Ice Hockey Federation president René Fasel announced that the Olympic tournament would be expanded to include 10 teams, from eight, for Beijing 2022, which will allow China to ice a team, the tournament once again came down to the only two real contenders for gold in women's hockey.

Though Finland, Sweden and Russia have made strides in the women's game in recent years, it's still undeniably a two-country competition for the top of the podium.

Canada beat Russia by the same 5-0 score earlier in the tournament and continued that trend on Monday with an early goal from Jennifer Wakefield. Poulin, the hero from Sochi who is Canada's captain in Pyeongchang, scored in the second period while Wakefield put the team up 3-0 in the third. Goals by Emily Clark and Rebecca Johnston made it 5-0.

Canada beat the U.S. 2-1 last week in the seeding round, a sign the two teams are as closely matched as ever.

Given that parity, Canada's assistant captain Brianne Jenner said the gold medal will come down to which team can deliver when the pressure is at its highest.

"You often like to say it comes down to who wants it more. There's no question that both of these teams want it as bad as possible," Jenner said. "It's going to come down to who executes, who's able to perform in the moment, and who stays disciplined, and probably who wins the special teams battles. So we're going to be focused on those things."

Before Canada's semi-final game against Russia began on Monday, the U.S. players were already looking forward to a rematch, given what happened in Sochi.

"Four years ago, we certainly looked at ourselves in the mirror and figured out what we can take away from it," American forward Meghan Duggan said. "That's a long time ago in our eyes. It's a new team, we're ready to go."

The Globe's Shelby Blackley teaches Patrick Dell the basic differences between traditional and mixed doubles curling, which is new to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Much falling on the ice ensues.