Ice Hockey is OUR game!!!!: Canada beats US, capture third straight gold

Feb 25, 2010, Vancouver (AFP) – Canada captured a third consecutive Olympic women’s ice hockey title on Thursday, defeating arch-rival United States 2-0 in an emotional championship match on home ice. “It was special to do it at home,” Olympic all-time scoring leader Hayley Wickenheiser said after her third gold medal. “They have all been sensational. This one wasn’t pretty but we gutted it out and we got the job done.” Marie-Philip Poulin scored twice in the first period and goaltender Shannon Szabados made 28 saves to bring Canada the victory and bragging rights in a border war arch-rivalry between the sport’s only two women’s powers. “We played a great game and this is an incredible moment,” Szabados said. “It was unbelievable. I just had to be calm and poised. I just tried to relax and have fun. You always want to be confident out there.” The Americans, two-time reigning world champions, settled for a silver medal while Finland took bronze with an earlier 3-2 overtime triumph over Sweden. Poulin opened the scoring 13:55 into the first period off a pass from Jennifer Botterill and found the net again just 2:55 later with an assist from Meghan Agosta to give Canada the final margin as defenses then dominated. “We have no excuses. They played well,” US coach Mark Johnson said. “Their young goaltender played well. She didn’t give us many second opportunities. She came in with the pressure of a nation on her and she never cracked.” Szabados surrendered only one goal while making 50 saves in Canada’s undefeated run to gold.
“She was awesome,” Canada’s Gillian Apps said. “She was amazing – no other words to describe it.” Canada won the 2002 and 2006 Olympic gold medals and dominated a pre-Olympic exhibition series against the Americans, who won the first Olympic women’s title in 1998. The Americans had hoped to spoil Canada’s party on home ice and the Canadians had done to them in Salt Lake City in 2002, but now must wait until Sochi for another chance at Olympic revenge. “This rivalry will never end,” Szabados said. “It will just keep going on and on.” Canada and America have met for every major global title except the 2006 Olympic final after Sweden upset the US women in the semi-finals. Agosta, who set a one-Olympics record with nine goals in the tournament, was named the Olympic Most Valuable Player. “We were preapred. We were aggressive. We battled hard,” Agosta said. “We are going to cherish this for a long time.” Agosta was joined by compatriots Szabados and Poulin plus Americans Angela Ruggiero, Jenny Potter and Molly Engstrom on the all-tournament team selected in a media vote.  © AFP, 2009-2010





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