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It’s official: the US women’s hockey team is back in the finals at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, where they’ll square off against longtime rival Canada. This marks the sixth time the neighboring teams will compete against each other in the gold-medal match. At the 2018 Olympics, Team USA clinched a first-place finish over Canada, but in Beijing, the Canadian team has gone out of their way to show the US that they aren’t backing down. Canada has scored a record 54 goals during the Olympic tournament, according to ESPN, and held a 4-2 victory over the US in the preliminary round. Here’s a brief history of the rivalry between these fierce competitors ahead of tonight’s final.
Since women’s hockey made its Olympic debut at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, both the US and Canada have medaled in every tournament. The countries have faced off in a total of five Olympic finals. Team USA won the first-ever gold medal at the 1998 inaugural tournament, where they outscored Canada 3-1. However, Canada then went on to win four consecutive gold medals, three of which edged the US into second place. At the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, exactly 20 years after they first won gold, the US reclaimed gold in a nail-biting, sudden-death shoot-out. The final score was 3-2.
The rivalry between the US and Canada goes far beyond the Olympics. At the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation’s Women’s World Championship, both teams once again found themselves in the final, which naturally went into overtime. In a reversal from the 2018 Olympics, Canada won 3-2. In total, there have been 20 Women’s World Championship finals, and the US and Canada have competed against each another in 19 of them. Canada has won 11 of those games; the US has won eight.
In late 2021, the teams’ rivalry continued at the My Why Tour, an annual tournament that sees the neighboring squads face off in a series of games. Their track records only grew more evenly matched after four of the six games were decided by one goal. Unsurprisingly, three of those matches went into overtime.
It goes without saying that the US and Canada are the two most competitive teams in women’s hockey, which makes this rivalry so thrilling to watch. Suffice to say, we’re in for one epic showdown during tonight’s Olympic final, which airs on NBC at 11:10 p.m. ET.