SOCHI, RUSSIA – Team Canada won its first showdown against rival Team USA 3-2 in the Olympic women’s hockey tournament on Wednesday by scoring three goals in the third period, including one that was controversial.
Both teams have already qualified for the semifinals on the strength of victories in their first two pool-play games. Team USA will play on Monday; the gold mdeal game is set for February 20.
Trailing 1-0 after two periods, Team Canada scored twice early in the third period to grab the lead. Meghan Agosta tied the game with a power-play goal off a nice feed from Hayley Wickenheiser. Wickenheiser gave Canada the lead moments later on a goal that angered Team USA.
Wickenheiser pushed a shot toward goalie Jessie Vetter, who tried to smother the puck with her body. But the puck squirted underneath her and into the net. However, a referee’s whistle blew before the puck crossed the goal line.
Team USA captain Meghan Duggan argued that the goal should not have counted because of the whistle. The goal was reviewed but the score remained Canada 2-1.
Agosta gave Canada a two-goal cushion on a breakaway goal with 5:05 left.
Team USA broke a scoreless tie with a power-play goal by Hilary Knight late in the second period.
St. Cloud native Anne Schleper fired a shot from the point and Knight deflected it for her third goal of the tournament. Schleper gave Team USA some hope by scoring with 1:05 left in the game. But Canada held on for the win. Team Canada is the three-time defending Olympic champion. Team USA won the inaugural gold medal for women’s hockey in 1998.
t's the fifth time the teams have met in the Olympics, but the first since women's hockey was added to the Winter Games in 1998 that they have played in the preliminary round. The Americans beat Canada twice that year — including the gold medal game — but it's been Canada ever since, at least in the Olympics.
In addition to leading their southern neighbors 3-1 in Olympic gold medals, Canada has 10 world championships to five for the United States. No other country has won one.
The Americans have won five of the last seven, though, including last year's in Ottawa. In a pre-Olympic tuneup tour, the Canadians won three straight but then lost four in a row in the turmoil following coach Dan Church's surprise December resignation. He was replaced by former NHL player and coach Kevin Dineen.
Through all of the winning and losing streaks, the teams have remained equal. And that's the way they played it for the first 37 minutes, with the goalies withstanding rush after rush to keep their shutouts intact.
The fans shouted dueling chants of "Ca-na-da!" and "U-S-A!" And none of the players on the bench sat down, either standing to cheer on their teammates or leaning over the boards.
Material from The Associated Press is included in this report