U.S.-Canada women's hockey rivalry heating up before Olympics

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 28, 2013 - 8:19 AM

Players from the two favorites for Olympics gold have brawled in two of their five games since Oct. 12.


Canada's Caroline Quellette, right, takes a hit from USA's Hilary Knight during pre-Olympic women's hockey action in Calgary, Alberta, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013.

Photo: Larry MacDougal, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger


It’s not that Megan Bozek has anything against Canada. It’s just that when the former Gophers defenseman is in uniform for the U.S. women’s hockey team, nothing makes her see red like a maple leaf on the opponent’s sweater. “You know that on that day,’’ she said, “you’re trying to draw blood in the nicest way possible.’’

Bozek smiled when she said that during training camp in Blaine earlier this month. But as the 2014 Winter Olympics approach, any remaining niceties have evaporated from one of the biggest grudge matches in sports. The U.S. and Canada — who between them have won every Olympic gold medal and every world championship in women’s hockey history — have engaged in large-scale brawls in two of their past five games, including a 10-player melee on Dec. 20 in Grand Forks, N.D.

The two rivals will play twice more before the Olympics, on Saturday at Xcel Energy Center and Monday in Toronto. With only 43 days to go until the puck drops in Sochi, Russia, the U.S. recently has gained the upper hand, ending a three-game losing streak in the series with a 5-1 victory in Calgary on Dec. 12 and following that with a 4-1 win in Grand Forks.

The recent fights have drawn more attention to a rivalry already rich with high-intensity, high-stakes showdowns. While U.S. coach Katey Stone emphasized that she does not condone fighting, she does not view the dust-ups as an indication that the bad blood is boiling over. Neither do her players, who relish the rush that runs through every game between the two countries.

“Some people think, when they watch it in person, that it’s actually a full-checking hockey game,’’ said U.S. forward Julie Chu, 31, expected to make her fourth Olympic team when the final roster is announced Wednesday. “We embrace that.

“I think there’s always that little bit of ‘rrrr’ when you get there and you know you’re about to step on the ice against one of your greatest rivals. I love it.’’

The U.S. team’s “Bring On The World’’ tour included six games against Canada — three on each side of the border — as well as one more at the Four Nations Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y. The American team has been training in the Boston area since early September and also has played boys’ teams from New England as part of its Olympic preparation.

Top competition

After winning the first Olympic gold medal in women’s hockey at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, the Americans lost to Canada in the gold medal games in 2002 and 2010 and finished with bronze in 2006. When Canada won the gold 2-0 in 2010 on home soil in Vancouver, the players celebrated on the ice with cigars, beer and champagne.

Though many considered that ungracious, Chu said the Americans were less upset with the party than they were with the loss. Since then, they have turned the tables on Canada in two world championships, defeating it in the gold medal game in 2011 and 2013. The U.S. has won four of the past five world titles, beating Canada in the finals each time.

As they prepare for the Olympics, both teams need top-flight competition — the kind they can get only from each other. They typically play several times in the months leading up to the Winter Games, and that familiarity can breed contempt. In the Oct. 12 game in Burlington, Vt., American forward Monique Lamoureux made contact with Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados with about three minutes left in a 3-2 Canada victory, sparking a fight that involved 10 players and led to four major penalties for roughing.

In the game at Grand Forks, Canada’s Brianne Jenner made a run at American defenseman Josephine Pucci. Jocelyne Lamoureux responded by body-checking Jenner, and the ensuing fight with nine seconds left resulted in five fighting majors for each team. The teams also fought in 2009 during preparations for the 2010 Olympics.

Friendly rivalry?

Canadian forward Hayley Wickenheiser said the October fight was “fun.’’ Stone said it was unnecessary, though she also insisted after the Grand Forks fight that the Americans “will not be pushed around.’’ She noted that managing emotions is a big part of her duties when the teams play because feelings run high no matter what is at stake.

“We’re going to be physical and stick up for our teammates when needed,’’ said U.S. defenseman Anne Schleper, a former Gopher from St. Cloud. “But I don’t think [the rivalry] is too close to the edge. It’s always been like this, physical and intense and competitive.’’

Chu said she thinks the ill feelings do not carry over off the ice as much as they did in the past because the growth of women’s college hockey has created opportunities for Americans and Canadians to play together in college. Several of Chu’s teammates said they are friends with Canadian players and do not harbor hatred toward them.

On Saturday, though, those friendships will be put on ice for 60 minutes. “When you get into that gameday mentality versus your archrivals, you have no friends,’’ Bozek said. “You’re not here to make friends; you’re here to win a hockey game.’’

  • related content

  • U.S. women’s hockey coach Katey Stone says that the melees with Canada are unnecessary but that her team won’t be pushed around.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia 3 Bottom 8th Inning
Oakland 0
Toronto 5 Top 8th Inning
NY Yankees 2
Arizona 1 Bottom 8th Inning
Colorado 5
Boston - R. De La Rosa 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Milwaukee - M. Garza 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Washington - J. Zimmermann 6:10 PM
Miami - J. Cosart
NY Mets - J. Niese 6:10 PM
Atlanta - M. Minor
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Archer
Cleveland - T. House 6:10 PM
Minnesota - T. May
Seattle - C. Young 6:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Wacha
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
Utah 26 Delayed 7:51
Michigan 10
Louisville 28 3rd Qtr
North Carolina 27 3rd Qtr 2:35
East Carolina 49
Army 21 4th Qtr 0:58
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 19 4th Qtr 9:48
(21) BYU 34
(6) Texas A&M 58 4th Qtr 4:01
Rutgers 31 4th Qtr 5:26
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 4th Qtr 12:22
Kansas 17
Florida 21 4th Qtr 14:47
(3) Alabama 35
San Jose St 7 Delayed 11:38
Minnesota 17
Texas State 14 Delayed 13:35
Illinois 6
Fla Atlantic 19 4th Qtr 8:14
Wyoming 17
Indiana 17 3rd Qtr 1:17
(18) Missouri 17
Massachusetts 7 4th Qtr 11:59
Penn State 48
Georgia State 0 2nd Qtr
Washington 0
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 2nd Half 44:55
Portland 1
Houston 6:00 PM
New England 6:30 PM
San Jose 6:30 PM
Seattle 6:30 PM
Red Bull New York
D.C. 7:30 PM
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM


Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29




question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters