There are many great rivalries in the world of sports but the ones that always manage to capture the excitement of the fans are those that take place at the pinnacle of the sport. In almost all sports, the international field of play is considered to be the ultimate state of the game, with nations pitted against each other to see which has developed the very best group of players in the world.
In men’s hockey, Canada dominates. Canadians dominate the elite-level group of players in the NHL and tend to overwhelm on the international stage when their best players are allowed to attend events. Over in women’s hockey, Canada is also a dominant force, but their close neighbours down south have managed to best the Canadians on numerous occasions – creating an epic sporting rivalry over the decades.
The rivalry between Canada and the USA has produced 139 titillating matchups, in which both sides have gone all-out to defeat their close rivals. Being two very strong teams with good funding in the sport, they have been able to stay toe-to-toe with each other on many huge occasions, such as Olympic finals.
Team USA ends Canada's 16-year gold medal reign in women’s ice hockey https://t.co/hWrtPablFT pic.twitter.com/w3CALScGcA— Reuters Pictures (@reuterspictures) February 22, 2018
The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics provided some incredible games on the ice but, ultimately, it all came down to Canada meeting the USA in the final once again. Having defeated USA in Group A, Canada was confident going into the game, but a USA comeback in the third left the teams at 2-2, which lasted until the shootout. The USA won the shootout for their first gold medal in the event for 20 years.
The USA snapped a five-game win-streak that Canada had held over them coming into the final, adding even more intrigue to the next matchup. On November 7, 2018, Canada and USA will meet in the 2018 4 Nations Cup to compete for the gold medal that the USA has won three years running.
The two seem to be able to trade periods of dominance, with Canada, historically, being the better side. Despite this dominance, it Is still extremely hard to take your pick between the two, with many people opting for strategies used by punters to make accurate predictions based on form and past events. The tournament will be taking place in Saskatoon, Canada, giving them the slight edge. But, then again, USA has been remarkably dominant in the competition, winning six of the last ten tournaments – Canada taking the other four. The score lines have been close since the 2017 4 Nations Cup, so an Asian handicap may not be the best way to go when trying to pick a winner.
#OnThisDay #BCSportHistory February 28, 2010 #JeromeIginla passes to #SidneyCrosby who scores on team USA & clinches gold at the Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament - Canada’s 14th of the Games - setting the record for most gold medals won by a nation at a single Winter Olympics. pic.twitter.com/Ayrs0o9kpB— BC Sports HallofFame (@BCSportsHall) February 28, 2019
The rivalry first began on April 21, 1987, when the two met in the preliminaries for the inaugural World Women’s Hockey Tournament. Canada edged the proceedings 2-1 and went on a four-game winning streak against the USA, spanning the 1990, 1992, and 1994 IIHF World Championships. Then, in 1995, USA finally drew blood by beating Canada a whopping 5-2 in the IIHF Pacific Rim Championship in 1995. USA’s win came at the San Jose Ice Center, which is the NHL’s San Jose Sharks’ training facility.
Over the years that followed, in major tournaments and major international tournaments, Canada and USA exchanged wins, with the Canadians coming out on top more often than not. But, then came Canada vs USA Series 2001-02. The series would bookend three TSN Challenge exhibition events, creating a string of eight matchups over two years – all of which the USA won in regulation. A combined score of 31-13 in favour of the USA hinted at a new age of USA dominance.
However, when the two met at the 2002 Winter Olympics in the USA, Canada reverted to its dominant self and dished out a 3-2 beating to earn them gold against the USA in the final.
Games are often close between the two rivals but Canada does boast the biggest win of the rivalry, with an 8-0 thrashing of the USA on April 17, 1992, in the IIHF World Championships. But, then again, the USA boasts the longest period of dominance with a seven-game win streak.
Overall, Canada boasts 62 wins in regulation, 11 overtime wins, and six shootout wins against the USA. The USA only has 44 wins against their northern neighbours, with a further six overtime wins and nine shootout wins. Only once has a match between the two ended in a stalemate – way back in the 2003 4 Nations Cup preliminaries, ending 1-1.
When it comes down to the biggest events, the gold medal matches, Sports Illustrated tallies the score as 3-2 in favour of Canada. The USA won the first gold medal matchup in 1998 3-1 but Canada followed up with three wins on the trot in 2002, 2010, and 2014. Proving that the rivalry is still very much alive, USA thrillingly claimed the 2018 gold.
The Canada vs USA rivalry in hockey stands as not only one of the greatest rivalries in women’s sports but in the whole of sports. The two continue to go all-out to get one up on their neighbours in the heated game of hockey.