Canada and U.S. showcase best of women's game

Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:45pm EST
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By Steve Keating

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Canada claimed a thrilling 3-2 win over the United States in a high-quality contest on Wednesday that showcased the best that women's ice hockey can offer at the Sochi Olympics.

The trouble is that after nearly two decades of Olympic competition, Canada and the United States remain in a league of their own and are the only two nations capable of putting on such an entertaining show.

With their places in the semi-finals already secured, even with nothing on the line the North American rivals were able to deliver an Olympic-worthy effort that had those in a packed Shayba arena on the edge of their seats.

"I think there always pride on the line, nobody wants to give an inch. Whether it is gold medal or not, if feels like it's a gold-medal game every time we play because we are the two best teams in the sport," said Canada's Hayley Wickenheiser, playing in her fifth Winter Olympics.

"We push each other, fans love to watch these games and it's great hockey."

Only once in Olympic competition has another country managed to get the better of the North Americans, Sweden beating the United States in the semi-finals at the Turin Winter Games.

Otherwise Canada and the United States have held a duopoly over the women's game that shows no signs of ending.

The two nations have won every gold medal since women's hockey became part of the Olympic program in 1998 and Wednesday's contest offered a preview of what the final may look like on February 20.   Continued...

Canada's Catherine Ward, Marie-Philip Poulin, Jocelyne Larocque and goalie Charline Labonte celebrate after defeating Team USA in their women's preliminary round hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 12, 2014 REUTERS/Mark Blinch