The win was a redemption story for Team Canada, who were forced to settle for silver four years ago in the 2018 Olympic final — also against the U.S. — after taking gold in the previous four Winter Games.
“There is some angel up there. This group makes things easy celebrating each other’s success being on the same page, one team,” captain Marie-Philip Poulin said after celebrating with her team.
“Since 2018 we have been putting in the work and to be honest, to be rewarded with that gold medal today, was all worth it.”
Canada’s first goal of the opening period was deemed offside, but Sarah Nurse got the puck back into the U.S. net just 90 seconds later to officially give Canada the advantage. Poulin made it 2-0 with five minutes left in the first.
Poulin got another goal in halfway through the second period, with American Hilary Knight finally answering moments later while the U.S. was shorthanded to make it 3-1.
Not even a goalie pull and a long-fought-for goal in the last 15 seconds of the third period could change the Americans’ fortunes, as Canada held on to secure the win.
“We were never going to give up and I knew that and we believed that right to the very end,” said assistant captain Lee Stecklein. “We always believed we could do it — if they had three, we were going to find a way to get four and we believed that until the very end.”
Goalie Ann-Marie Desbiens held her own against the U.S. with 38 saves throughout the game, getting knocked down a few times as the Americans scrambled to dig the puck past her.
She only let the second goal through after losing her stick in the midst of a series of scrimmages as the U.S. battled to move the game into overtime. By game’s end, the Americans had outshot the Canadians 40-21.
Finland defeated Switzerland the previous day to take bronze.
Canada never lost a game in the Beijing tournament, including a 4-2 bout against the U.S. in preliminary play. The team scored 57 goals throughout the Games, an Olympic record.
Nurse made history with the most points and assists in a single women’s Olympic tournament, while Poulin — who had already well-earned the nickname “Captain Clutch” before Thursday’s superb effort — ended the day as Beijing’s second scoring leader.
Canada is the most successful Olympic women’s hockey team of all time, playing in every gold-medal match since the introduction of women’s hockey at Nagano 1998.
After losing to the United States in the inaugural contest, Canada won four straight gold medals before falling to the U.S. again in a shootout in Pyeongchang.
The U.S. and Canada have faced off in every gold-medal game of women’s hockey with the exception of Torino 2006, when the Canadians played Sweden.
The women’s golden victory in Beijing stands in stark contrast to the men’s team, whose medal dreams were dashed after getting eliminated in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Canada has now won 19 medals in the 2022 Games — four gold, four silver and 11 bronze — the fifth-highest haul of these Olympics.
–With files from Global’s Aaron D’Andrea and Reuters