Hockey bragging rights will stay north of the International Boundary for another four years.
Canada's men's hockey team defeated the United States 1-0 in the semifinals of the Sochi Olympics tournament on Friday at Bolshoy Ice Dome. Canada's Jamie Benn scored the only goal in a tense semifinal matchup between the North American rivals who faced off for gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Canada won that matchup 3-2 when Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal in overtime. With goals harder to come by in this clash and Crosby yet to score during these Olympics, Canada's defenders smothered a United States squad that had racked up goals since arriving in Sochi.
“It doesn’t get much better than that," Benn said after win, via CBC. "We found a way to win and it was a great team effort.”
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Canada advances to the gold medal game to face Sweden on Sunday with a chance to win their third gold in the past four Olympics. In addition to taking home gold in 2010, Canada triumphed in the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. In both cases, the United States earned silver. With Canada yet to lose in Sochi, Jeff Carter sounded understandably confident ahead of the gold medal tilt.
"Are you really asking me that? I think we're going to win," the veteran winger said when asked who should be favored on Sunday, via Chris Johnston of Rogers Sportsnet.
The United States began the semifinal looking like the team that had scored 15 goals in its three games in the preliminary round and then five more in a quarterfinal win over Czech Republic. Less than 30 seconds into the semifinal, U.S. forward Phil Kessel attacked Carey Price's goal from the right wing and fired off a quick shot. Price handled that early attempt near his left post and every one that came after it to record the shutout.
After a frenetic first period, Benn scored for Canada early in the second when he deflected a pass from teammate Jay Bouwmeester past U.S. goaltender Jonathan Quick. After being beaten by that shot, Quick did all he could to keep his team in the game right through the final horn of the third period. The L.A. Kings netminder made 36 saves overall while his counterpart made 31 saves.
"We've gotten better every game," Crosby told NBC after the win. "And I think you see it, we're coming together with every one."
A day earlier, Canada's women's hockey team stunned the United States to win gold. Canada erased a 2-0 deficit in the waning minutes of the third period and scored the winner in overtime. Three members of Canada's victorious women's team reportedly left an inspirational note in the men's locker room ahead of the second installment of the hockey border battle.
— Daniele Hamamdjian (@DHamamdjian) February 21, 2014