Workforce USA and Canada, hockey’s two biggest girls’s hockey titans, meet for gold once more

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U.S. star Hilary Knight believes her staff’s decades-old feud with Canada is “probably the most lovely rivalry” within the sport.

“It will get the most effective and the worst out of each of us, on the similar time,” mentioned Knight, forward of their 2022 Winter Olympics girls’s hockey gold medal recreation scheduled for Thursday in Beijing and airing at 11:10 p.m. ET tonight.

It is a rivalry stuffed with equal components artistry and animosity.

“Each time we go in opposition to them, we wish to make a press release and present them that they do not belong on the ice with us,” mentioned Canada ahead Natalie Spooner, after her staff defeated the People, 4-2, of their preliminary spherical recreation.

The U.S. beat Canada for gold in 2018. It was the primary time they heard their anthem on the medal ceremony for the reason that inaugural Olympic girls’s hockey event in 1998. Canada gained 4 straight gold medal video games, three of them coming in opposition to the U.S. — they defeated Sweden in 2006, in a event that noticed Workforce USA win bronze — earlier than shedding in a shootout in Pyeongchang 4 years in the past.

It is a conflict between the sports activities’ two biggest girls’s hockey titans. Since 1990, when the Worldwide Ice Hockey Federation held its first official girls’s world championship, both the U.S. or Canada has gained that event. The truth is, there have solely been two championship video games since 1990 — the 2006 Olympic and the 2019 IIHF worlds ultimate — that Canada and Workforce USA have not been the final two groups standing.

The U.S. superior to the gold medal recreation with a 4-1 semifinal victory over Finland, who provided a troublesome problem. Canada, in the meantime, has been the event’s resident steamroller, defeating Switzerland 10-3 and outscoring their opponents 54-8 in Beijing.

Listed below are three keys to the gold medal recreation, the newest chapter of hockey’s biggest rivalry:

1. High quality vs. Amount on Offense

The U.S. led the Olympic event with 334 photographs on aim, 23 greater than Canada amassed. That included 53 photographs on aim in opposition to Canada of their preliminary spherical loss. After that recreation, Workforce Canada coach Troy Ryan mentioned his staff might have “knocked off 15-20” of these photographs had they managed the puck higher and appeared nonplussed in regards to the American shot totals.

“To us, loads of it’s shot high quality and never amount. We’re comfy with them, any state of affairs any day,” he mentioned.

The “amount over high quality” problem dogged the U.S. in different event video games, too. Canada’s goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens — whom Spooner known as “the most effective goalie on this planet” — can deal with low-danger possibilities with ease. The People should discover methods to interrupt by means of Canada’s protection with increased high quality scoring possibilities, particularly within the slot space.

For Canada, puck administration will probably be key in limiting these U.S. offensive possibilities. However additionally they have a velocity benefit over the People they should exploit greater than they did in Spherical 1. “That’s one in every of our staff’s id, velocity and the best way we play the sport. We attempt to get the puck fast,” mentioned the appropriately named Renata Quick of Canada.

2. Keep Off Particular Groups

Workforce USA was at its finest in opposition to Canada in 5-on-5 play and could be well-advised to maintain the motion at even power as a lot as attainable.

Though they scored a power-play aim in opposition to Canada of their prelim battle, the Canadians have killed 27 of 31 energy performs within the event. Distinction that with the U.S., which struggled on the penalty kill, permitting three objectives in 13 instances shorthanded. Canada has the most effective energy play within the event, with 10 objectives in 22 energy play alternatives (45.5%).

The U.S. energy play has six objectives on 26 power-play alternatives, nevertheless it’s struggled in opposition to this Canadian staff for the higher a part of a yr: Their energy play went 3-for-25 in final yr’s world championships and 4-for-20 in opposition to Canada of their exhibition collection.

As was indicative by their shot whole, Workforce USA carried play at 5-on-5 of their first assembly. Greatest to maintain it even.

3. Stars and Stripes … However Principally Stars

The U.S. misplaced some vital gamers from the 2018 squad that beat Canada. Twins Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, who scored the shootout aim to win gold, have retired. Forwards Meghan Duggan and Gigi Marvin, in addition to defender Kacey Bellamy, additionally moved on. They misplaced one other key contributor in Beijing when middle Brianna Decker injured her leg within the staff’s opening recreation in opposition to Finland and was misplaced for the event. They will actually miss her right here.

The U.S. will want its reinforcements — gamers like ahead Alex Carpenter, defender Savannah Harmon, ahead Jesse Compher and ahead Abby Roque — to have their finest video games of the event to beat Canada. However maybe greater than something, they want their stars to be their stars.

Knight, who’s now second in profession Olympic factors for the U.S., had a press release recreation in opposition to Finland, with an help on Cayla Barnes’ opening aim and a essential aim of her personal late within the second interval. She was held scoreless within the preliminary spherical recreation in opposition to Canada. So have been linemates Kendall Coyne-Schofield and Hannah Brandt. Amanda Kessel had an help in that recreation and will probably be essential once more within the gold medal recreation.

Canada is aware of what it is getting from its assortment of star forwards like captain Marie-Phillip Poulin (14 factors, together with a penalty shot aim in opposition to the U.S.), Sarah Nurse (16 factors), Brianne Jenner (14 factors) and Spooner (14 factors); in addition to newcomer Sarah Fillier, who has eight objectives in six video games.

The U.S. wants its finest to be at their finest, too.

“It is a second to empty the tank. It is what we labored so laborious for,” mentioned Coyne-Schofield. “It has been a troublesome yr. Everybody’s been so resilient by means of the pandemic, the ups and downs, the postponements. That is what we got here right here to do.”



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