BEIJING, China -- It was a redemption four years in the making. And the heroine simply repeated a personal ritual that started twelve years ago.
The Canadians toppled the Americans 3-2 to reclaim the gold medal that they lost to their cross-border rivals in Pyeongchang four years ago. It marks the fifth Olympic triumph for Canada in the seven editions of the Olympic Winter Games to feature women’s hockey.
Leading the way on offence was none other than captain Marie-Philip Poulin, who furthered her legacy as the best clutch player to ever lace up a pair of skates. Poulin’s two goals placed the native of Beauceville, Que., in unprecedented territory; she is the only player – male or female – to score in four Olympic gold medal games.
The one-goal margin of defeat flattered the Americans. Although the two previously contested gold medal matches in 2014, and 2018 were decided by the same score, the 2022 scoresheet was not indicative of Canada’s domination of its opponent.
Playing with a short bench, the United States was overmatched at every turn. Conversely, Canada was more resilient in the face of adversity, exemplified in the first period after an apparent goal by Natalie Spooner was disallowed for offside. Just moments later, Sarah Nurse, unfazed, deflected a point shot past goaltender Alex Cavallini to open the scoring.
Canada extended its two-goal lead when Poulin pounced on a turnover from Kelly Pannek and rifled a shot underneath Cavallini’s blocker. The Americans generated only a minimal response as the score remained the same heading into the intermission.
In the second period, Poulin finished off a three-on-two rush for her second goal of the game. Nurse dished off to Brianne Jenner, whose shot was kicked out by Cavallini, only to have a juicy rebound land at the feet of Poulin, who deftly kicked the puck up to her stick for a tap-in goal.
The secondary assist on the play was Nurse’s 18th point of these Olympics, setting a single-tournament scoring record.
From then onward, Canada was in complete control. Although Hilary Knight – a clutch player in her own right – scored a second-period shorthanded goal, and Amanda Kessel added a powerplay marker in the dying seconds of regulation time with a sixth attack on the ice, the outcome was never in doubt.
An elated group of red-and-black clad players celebrated in ecstasy as the final horn sounded. Head coach Troy Ryan and general manager Gina Kingsbury exchanged ecstatic hugs with the staff on the bench.
Ann-Renee Desbiens was once again sensational in the Canadian net, making 38 saves in the victory.
Jenner finished with nine goals in the tournament, tying an Olympic record and earning MVP honours.