february 12, 2014 • 10:15 AM
• last update 12:42 PM
Women's Hockey: Canada comeback to defeat the U.S. 3-2
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
Foto: Mark Blinch / Reuters
Canada edged the United States 3-2 in a clash between the women's ice hockey heavyweights on Wednesday, giving the three-time defending Olympic champions a psychological edge ahead of an expected gold medal matchup at the Sochi Games.
The marquee game of the preliminary round offered what many have come to expect from the sport's two superpowers - an intense, back-and-forth, physical battle played at a high tempo that went down to the wire.
Trailing 1-0 early in the third period, Canada got two quick goals from Meghan Agosta, who was celebrating her 27th birthday, and Hayley Wickenheiser to pull ahead before enduring a frantic finish to seal the win and top spot in Group A.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," said Agosta, who finished with two goals and an assist. "I didn't go out there thinking I'm going to score on my birthday, but it wasn't just about me. We won as a team."
Canada looked headed for a comfortable finish after Agosta scored her second of the game to give her team a two-goal cushion with about five minutes to play.
Bronze medalist Kelly Clark of the United States, gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington of the United States and silver medalist Torah Bright of Australia after the women's halfpipe competition.
Photo: Getty Images
But the Americans pulled their goalie in favor of an extra attacker and the move paid off as Anne Schleper scored with 65 seconds left.
Canada then took a penalty for having too many players on the ice but the Americans, still playing with an empty net, were unable to make advantage count.
"We've taken some hits and we'll come back from it," said U.S. forward Hilary Knight. "Unfortunately we haven't had the greatest puck luck today but we'll come back a stronger team the next time."
The loss was the first of the tournament for the United States but they will also advance directly to the semis as they finished second behind Canada in the group.
Since women's ice hockey was added to the Olympic program at the 1998 Nagano Games, Canada and the United States have accounted for all four gold medals.
The Sochi Games is debuting a new format aimed at avoiding the embarrassing routs at previous Olympics that have put the sport's Olympic future in doubt.
Reuters - Reuters content is the intellectual property of Thomson Reuters or its third party content providers. Any copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.