Canadians take early lead against U.S. with hockey gold medal on the line

Canada’s women’s hockey team jumped to a 2-0 lead against their U.S. rivals in the gold-medal game at the Beijing Olympics on Thursday.

Canada’s Sarah Nurse scored the first goal to make it 1-0, after a previous goal by a different player was called back due to an offsides penalty. Later in the first period Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin scored to make it 2-0.

The U.S. and Canada are meeting in the in the final match for the sixth time in seven Olympics.

The final game at the Wukesong Sports Centre will give the American team the chance to win its first back-to-back Olympic gold medal since the women’s competition was introduced 24 years ago.

For Canada, a win would be revenge for the shootout loss it suffered at the hands of the U.S. at the 2018 PyeongChang Games.

“I think it’s wonderful hockey. It’s the most beautiful rivalry in sports,” U.S. forward Hilary Knight said Monday after the semi-final win over Finland. “It gets the best and the worst out of both of us at the same time. And it’s just a wonderful game.”

From left, USA’s Megan Keller, USA’s Caroline Harvey, USA’s Kendall Coyne Schofield and teammates celebrate winning the women’s play-offs semifinal match of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games ice hockey competition between USA and Finland, at the Wukesong Sports Centre, in Beijing, on Feb. 14, 2022.Anthony Wallace / AFP – Getty Images

The U.S. and Canada have faced each other in six of the seven gold-medal games held since the women’s competition was introduced at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan. The U.S. had come off slightly worse, losing to their northern neighbors at three of those meetings, compared to two wins.

Before Thursday’s match in Beijing, Canada led with four golds and two silvers, compared to the U.S.’ two golds, three silvers and a bronze.

The U.S. beat Canada for the gold in 1998 and again at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, but Canada won the gold in the other four Olympics.

The U.S. beat Finland 4-1 Monday in Beijing to advance to the gold-medal game. Canada earlier that day routed Switzerland 10-3 to go on to the secure their spot.

The only time the two teams have not met in the final match was at in 2006 at Torino, Italy, when the U.S. lost in the semi-finals and beat Finland for a bronze. Canada won the gold against Sweden that year.

Finland won the bronze with a 4-0 win over Switzerland in Beijing Thursday.

In the men’s competition, the U.S. team was eliminated in Wednesday’s quarterfinal, losing 2-3 to Slovakia in a shootout.

The Associated Press contributed.

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