Three Straight Olympic Titles

Canada’s women’s hockey team captured its third consecutive Olympic gold medal Thursday with a solid 2-0 victory over their main rival, the United States. In 2006, Canada defeated Sweden for gold and in 2002 beat the USA in Salt Lake City. The U.S. had, however, beat Canada at the past two World Championships to win gold.

“It’s so special,” said captain Hayley Wickenheiser. “We stuck together, believed in ourselves and everyone played hard.”

Coach Melody Davidson elected to start goaltender Olympic rookie Shannon Szabados in net, and the Edmonton native responded with the shutout. The team is blessed with talent in net, with Szabados joined by veterans Charline Labonte and Kim St. Pierre who started the 2006 and 2002 gold medal games, respectively.

A Canadian record was broken by four of the players on Canada’s 21-strong roster. Along with silver in the inaugural Olympic tournament in 1998, Becky Kellar, Jayna Hefford, Jennifer Botterill and Wickenheiser have now collected four straight medals in the same Olympic event. Until this month, no Canadian had ever achieved this feat. (Joining them is short track speed skater Tania Vicent, who won her fourth straight 3,000-metre relay medal on Wednesday.)

During the 1998 Olympic tournament, Marie-Philip Poulin was six years old. Yesterday, the 18-year-old soft-handed sniper scored the game’s only two goals – both in the first period. The native of Beauceville, Quebec is touted as a player to watch heading into the future for Canada, and she sure proved it here.

The game was filled with power plays, speed and aggressive play between the two countries who know each other very well. Players on both sides are well aware of each other’s tendencies on the ice, as many are teammates outside of international play.

Eight players became triple gold medallists yesterday: Colleen Sostorics, Caroline Ouellette, Cherie Piper, St. Pierre, Kellar, Wickenheiser, Hefford and Botterill.

Canada did not let up in this tournament, outscoring the opposition 48-2 in five games. Meghan Agosta, playing centre, was named Olympic tournament MVP with nine goals (a new Olympic record) and six assists overall.