Finishing undefeated, Canada held off a late surge from the United States to emerge victorious by a 3-2 margin in the gold medal game. Recording 38 saves, Ann-Renee Desbiens enjoyed her second win versus the US in Beijing.
Opening the scoring was Sarah Nurse, scoring her fifth goal of the tournament. Scoring on Alex Cavallini at the 7:50 mark of the first period, both were former competitors from the acclaimed University of Wisconsin Badgers.
With assists credited to Marie-Philip Poulin and Claire Thompson, it continued their run as essential contributors in Canada’s success in Beijing. Before the period expired, Poulin added to Canada’s lead, finding the back of the net at 15:02 for an unassisted goal.
Merely 24 seconds after Poulin’s goal, US captain Kendall Coyne-Schofield was called for delay of game. Nullifying the Canadian power play, it allowed the US to not fall behind further.
At the 9:08 mark of the second period, Poulin recorded her second goal of the game, with Nurse and assistant captain Brianne Jenner logging the assists.
Following Poulin’s goal, a pair of holding penalties ensued. First was Canadian blueliner Jocelyne Larocque, sent to the penalty box at 11:09. Despite the best efforts of the US, Desbiens remained a stone wall, preserving the 3-0 lead.
Nearly five minutes after Larocque was penalized, US skater Megan Keller was also called for hooking, placing her team in a penalty kill situation. Despite the disadvantage, Hilary Knight, another Wisconsin alumnae, spoiled Desbiens bid for a golden shutout, scoring shorthanded.
With Canada outshot by a 13-6 margin in the second period, the US attempted to chip away in the third period. Once again, Desbiens remained an obstacle. After setting a Canadian record, facing 51 shots in their preliminary round win versus the US, Desbiens was not unfazed as she faced a constant barrage of shots in the third.
Despite the 3-1 lead, there was a sense of unease for Canadian supporters. With less than two minutes remaining, Poulin was called for tripping, providing the US with a power play opportunity.
Scoring in the game’s dying seconds, Amanda Kessel reduced the Canadian lead to one goal. Taking into account the magnitude of the rivalry, the idea of a US comeback could not be discounted.
Although Desbiens closed the door on a miracle comeback, the US outshot Canada by a 16-4 mark in the third. With Larocque called for another penalty slightly past the midway mark of the third, Desbiens rose to the occasion once again, frustrating the US offense.
In a 3-2 final, Canada finished it’s undefeated run in Beijing. Winning their fifth gold medal in women’s ice hockey at the Olympics, this year also marked the 20th anniversary of their first gold, prevailing over the US at Salt Lake 2002. With the game winning goal, it marked the third time in Poulin’s Olympic career that her goal clinched the gold medal for Canada.
Recognized as the tournament Most Valuable Player, Brianne Jenner was one of four Canadians recognized as Tournament All-Stars. Joining Jenner were team captain Marie-Philip Poulin, Sarah Nurse, who finished as tournament scoring leader, and blueliner Claire Thompson, whose +23 rating topped all skaters in Beijing. Joining them on the All-Star team were goaltender Klara Peslarova from Czechia, and Finnish captain Jenni Hiirikoski, gaining a bronze medal in her fourth Olympic appearance.