On Top of the World
Years in the Making: As the Canadian women’s ice hockey team celebrated its World Championship victory over the United States last week, it surely wasn’t a coincidence that the song, “It’s been years in the making” by Canadian band The Arkells accompanied them. Canada’s 3-2 overtime win was its first in nine years at this tournament, dating back to 2012.
For a sport with essentially two powerhouse teams, that’s a drought that stings even deeper. The United States had won the previous five championships and eight of the last nine. Throw in the U.S. winning gold in South Korea at the 2018 Olympic Games, and the run of American dominance was overwhelming.
That ended with an overtime goal by Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin. “It’s been a while since 2012. It’s been a long time coming,” Poulin said. “The team showed up tonight and I think we stayed resilient.”
Captain’s Quest: Resilience is a key word for the tournament in general. Originally scheduled for April, it was delayed due to COVID-19 and relocated from Nova Scotia to Alberta. And despite being down 2-0 after the first period in the final, Canada maintained the faith. “The score said 2-0, but we were comfortable with our period and we knew that if we just kept sticking with it, good things would eventually happen,'' Team Canada head coach Troy Ryan said.
It would be simple to say that Marie-Philip Poulin is a rising star in the women’s game, but the 30-year-old’s legacy was cemented long ago. The term “captain clutch” is hyperbolized in sports, but it’s a fitting one for Poulin.
A short resume of her biggest goals includes:
The only two goals in Canada’s gold medal game victory in the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. The game-tying and gold-medal winning goals at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Scoring in a losing effort at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang. And now, the overtime hero at the 2021 World Championships.
“She just finds a way to step it up in big games," Ryan said. "When she had that puck streaking through the middle, who else do you want to have the puck on their stick than Poulin? It’s amazing how many big goals she’s scored for Canada over her career, so we’re just glad she’s on our side.”
Looking Ahead: The Canadian team will enjoy their victory, but it’s a short road to the next main event: Beijing, 2022. In less than five months, these teams will be on the ice again. With the lack of competition in the women’s game evident again, these two juggernauts will once more lead the charge.
“That’s why it’s the greatest rivalry in sports,” U.S. forward Amanda Kessel said.
For the first time in a long time, it will be the American team’s chance at redemption. For a rivalry that’s been years in the making, the best chapter seems to be ahead.
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