Winter Olympics 2018: Women's Hockey Gold Medal Game Preview
Canada vs USA: The Rivalry That Never Ends
Three minutes and thirty seconds. That was how close Team USA was four years ago to dethroning Team Canada and tasting Gold for the first time since 1998, the inaugural Women's Ice Hockey tournament. But Canada engineered a jaw-dropping comeback scoring two goals within the final three minutes to tie the game and clinching the medal in overtime.
A heroic effort from Canada and a bitter defeat for the Americans. They outplayed Canada for 57 minutes but were undone by a few mistakes. But being the tough-minded athletes that they are, Team USA has used this painful memory as motivation to become even better
Team USA is the number-one ranked squad but Canada has a win over them in the Group Stage. Oddsmakers slightly favour the US here. Will they finally get over Canada?
Team Canada Breakdown
Puckline Odds: +1.5 (-336)
Moneyline Odds: +107
Canada being an underdog is rarer than a thirty-degree day in Nunavut but oddsmakers feel this Canadian team may come up short to the Americans. This is almost the same team from 2014 that barely just beat the Americans and they are now without the legendary Hayley Wickenheiser.
What Canada, it's all about team chemistry. Like Finnish goaltender Noora Raty said, "Canada plays so well as a team; they're prepared, their system's really good." Having only played three games, Canada has a whopping 16 goals scored versus two goals surrendered for a tournament-best 14-goal differential.
The team has five players with multiple goals including last year's hero Marie-Philip Poulin who has two goals and five points while Melodie Daoust leads the team with three goals and six points. Genevieve Lacasse is the X-Factor here. She made 44 saves in Canada's win over the US and she'll have to be just as good as the Americans will be out for blood.
Team USA Breakdown
Puckline Odds: -1.5 (+221)
Moneyline Odds: -151
They'll have to win eventually. The Americans have thoroughly outplayed Canada in their last two Olympic meetings but still somehow lost. After their heartbreaker in Sochi, they went on to win three consecutive IIHF World Women's Championships and were virtually unbeatable until running into their northern nemeses earlier last week.
Team USA outshot Canada 45 to 23 and spent the majority of the game in Canada's zone. Despite the loss, the Americans shrugged it off. Forward Amanda Kessel said, "I feel really good about it, and our team should, too. We put a great effort, and I think we put some doubt in Canadians' minds."
Doubt they did put especially in the minds of bookmakers as the US team enter this match as the favourites. They are the more talented team on paper, especially on offence. Despite having fewer goals per game (14 in four games), Team USA is brimming with talents like Kessel, Gigi Marvin, and team captain Hilary Knight.
Goaltender Maddie Rooney knows she has to be better if Team USA is to finally defeat Canada. While she wasn't bad, she'll have to outperform Lacasse and be a stone wall for USA as it will take a herculean effort to put Canada away. Team USA knows no lead is safe and they'll need to put their pedal to the metal for a full sixty minutes. Show no mercy. Be ruthless but be smart.
Prediction: the only prediction that's safe to make here is that this will be another closely contested game. Though there is an outside chance that Team USA blows Canada out of the water. This sounds ludicrous given their last two games but Team USA is just faster and more talented offensively. Anything short of Canada's goalies standing on their heads and Team USA could run away with the game.
Regardless, the Americans will finally get the monkeys off their backs and finish Canada off to capture their first Olympic gold medal since 1998. Bank on Team USA to win.Team USA (-151) Sports Interaction
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