GANGNEUNG, South Korea – Haley Irwin (Thunder Bay, Ont./Calgary, CWHL) and Marie-Philip Poulin (Beauceville, Que./Montreal, CWHL) scored second-period goals to give Canada’s Women’s Olympic Team the lead, but the Canadians fell agonizingly short in a 3-2 shootout loss to the United States in the gold medal game Thursday at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
The loss ends Canada’s record-setting Olympic win streak at 24 games, but it took an instant classic to do it.
After Gigi Marvin and Meghan Agosta (Ruthven, Ont.) traded early goals in the shootout, Mélodie Daoust (Valleyfield, Que./Montreal, CWHL) tucked in the go-ahead goal with a beautiful move on the fourth Canadian attempt.
Amanda Kessel quickly answered for the Americans to tie things up, and the U.S. went ahead for good when Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson beat Canadian goaltender Shannon Szabados (Edmonton, Alta.).
Agosta was turned away on the final shot for Canada, giving the Americans their first gold since 1998.
“Right now, it’s really tough, obviously. When you play in the final, you want to win. It was a good game; both teams gave their all. It’s sad to lose in a shootout,” said Poulin of heading home with a silver medal for Canada after winning two gold medals at her first two Olympic appearances. She remarked that Thursday’s nail-biter put the female game on display for the excitement it brings to fans. “Every four years we elevate the way we play; obviously, for women’s hockey, it’s great. We played great. It shows how much women’s hockey is growing.”
Canada finished the Games with a 4-1 record after going undefeated in its preliminary match-ups against the Olympic Athletes from Russia, Finland, and the United States. Canada advanced to the gold-medal game after a 5-0 semifinal victory over the Olympic Athletes from Russia on Feb. 19.
“It’s hard [to lose in the shootout]. There are not a lot of words to describe how you feel, but you know it was a great game of hockey,” said head coach Laura Schuler (Scarborough, Ont.). “That was what we expected – back-and-forth hockey. It was a battle until the end. It’s always been back-and-forth hockey for the past 20 years. It was obviously a great game, but not the outcome we wanted.”
The story early was Canadian penalty trouble; Canada took three minors in the first period, the last of which led to a Hilary Knight power-play goal in the dying seconds of the opening frame, and a 1-0 U.S. lead after one.
Irwin got Canada even two minutes into the second period, batting in a centering feed from Blayre Turnbull (Stellarton, N.S./Calgary, CWHL), and Poulin buried a set-up from Agosta five minutes later to put the Canadians ahead with her fifth goal in three career Olympic gold medal games.
Szabados took over in the third, keeping Canada up one. She finished with 39 saves in a stellar performance between the pipes.
Laura Stacey (Kleinburg, Ont./Markham, CWHL) had a glorious chance to make it a two-goal lead with just under seven minutes to go, but U.S. netminder Maddie Rooney got just enough of her shot.
The Americans quickly turned the puck back up the ice and caught Canada on a bad line change; Monique Lamoureux-Morando found space behind the defence and beat Szabados under the glove to tie the game.
Szabados was again terrific in the extra period, making nine saves. A late power play in overtime produced chances for the Canadians, but no golden goal, sending the game to the shootout.
Following the game, Daoust – who led Canada in scoring with seven points (three goals, four assists) – was named tournament MVP, while Szabados took home Top Goaltender honours, and Daoust and defenceman Laura Fortino (Hamilton, Ont./Markham, Ont.) earned places on the media all-star team.