Women's showdown draws near

The showdown of elite women's teams set for this afternoon

25.02.2010
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Caitlin Cahow won Olympic bronze in 2006, but is looking for an upgrade at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Photo: Matthew Manor / HHOF-IIHF Images

VANCOUVER – This is it. The gold medal women’s hockey game will feature the two best competing countries: Canada and the United States. Both teams dominated opponents en route to the gold medal final. The United States defeated all of their opponents by the combined score of 40-2. Canada also won all of their games by a comfortable margin of 46-2. On the U.S. team, Natalie Darwitz and Jenny Potter are tied for the lead in team scoring with 11 points each. Both have played important roles in helping the USA get back to the finals. Hilary Knight is tied for the team lead with seven assists. Jessie Vetter will get the nod for Team USA in net. In three games in this tournament, Vetter has won all three and surrendered a lone goal. Head coach Mark Johnson knows what it means to play for a gold medal. Thirty years ago he was in this position with larger odds facing his Team USA as they prepared in meeting the Soviet Union on their way to gold. It is precisely because he’s been an Olympic competitor that Johnson can speak firsthand from his experience. He has spent a year working with his players, honing their skills and getting them to believe that the 2006 Olympics was simply an aberration. Canada, the defending gold medalist, is ready to play. This team remains strong and has all the firepower and moxie to repeat as Olympic champions. Meghan Agosta leads all scorers in the tournament with nine goals and 14 points. She’s played brilliantly for the Canadian women and her nine goals is a tournament record, tying Stefanie Marty of Switzerland, who has also done the same. Agosta can become the first player to score 10 goals in a single Olympic tournament today. The previous mark was eight goals by Danielle Goyette at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Canada’s penalty killing has been strong. They have killed off 94% of power plays against. In addition, Canada has scored four shorthanded goals, making them just as dangerous a player down. They will be facing the top ranked power play team in the United States who have scored on 59% of their chances. Four Canadian women will win a fourth Olympic medal: Becky Kellar, Jayna Hefford, Jennifer Botterill and Hayley Wickenheiser. Wickenheiser is the all-time leading scorer in women’s Olympic Games history with 46 points. In six exhibition games during the 2009-10 season, Canada has defeated the USA five out of six games but none of that matters today. A consistent effort and good goaltending will result in the gold medal for one of these teams in the women’s ice hockey competition at the 2010 Winter Olympics. JOHN SANFUL

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