Canada’s men’s hockey team defeated the United States 1-0 in the semifinals of the Sochi Olympics tournament on Friday at Bolshoy Ice Dome. Team USA has not won a bronze medal in men’s ice hockey since 1936, if they win against the Finns it would give the United States back-to-back medals in the event for the first time in over 50 years.
The United States began the semifinal looking like the team that had scored 15 goals in its three games in the preliminary round and then five more in a quarterfinal win over Czech Republic.
Less than 30 seconds into the semifinal, U.S. forward Phil Kessel attacked Carey Price’s goal from the right wing and fired off a quick shot. Price handled that early attempt near his left post and every one that came after it to record the shutout, says the Huff Post.
After the first period, Jamie Benn scored on a nice give-and-go with defenceman Jay Bouwmeester with 1:41 gone in the second for Canada who are trying to win their first gold medal outside of North America since 1952 in Oslo. Benn passed the puck back to the point to Bouwmeester who immediately fired it back to Benn in front of the goal for the deflection.
“We wanted to stay on them and control the play in their end,” said Benn, who wasn’t invited to the first tryout camp for Team Canada but was added to the team later on. “When we did turn it over, we were on them right away. We found a way to win.”
American defenceman Ryan Suter said they didn’t deserve to win because they were too timid.
“We didn’t show up to play,” said Suter. “It’s kind of frustrating. We were passive. You can’t play scared. We sat on our heels and just didn’t take it to them at all.”
Canada will face Sweden in the final Sunday after the Swedes beat Finland 2-1 in the other semi final. Sweden will be a tough test for Canada because the Scandinavian nation has improved with each game in Sochi and several of its players were part of the 2006 squad that won an Olympic gold in Torino.
“It is another opportunity,” said Canadian captain Sidney Crosby. “We all worked hard a long time to get to play in the gold medal game.”
Canada’s win comes just one day after the Canadian women won the gold medal beating the USA 3-2 in the final, storming back from a two goal. The winning goal came from Marie-Philip Poulin, on a shot past Jessie Vetter.
Canada have won four of five women’s ice hockey gold medals to be awarded since the sport made its debut at the 1998 Nagano Games and Wickenheiser, now 35, has played in all five Olympic competitions. The USA are the only other team to have won gold – with a 3-1 win in the final at those 1998 Games that remains Canada’s last defeat in Olympic competition, reports the Guardian.