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U.S. Women Face Rival Canada For Hockey World Championship Gold

By Nicole Haase | Sept. 03, 2022, 7:08 p.m. (ET)

Jesse Compher during the women's ice hockey preliminary round against Team Switzerland at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 6, 2022 in Beijing.


A deep rivalry will be renewed when the U.S. and Canada meet Sunday in the gold-medal game of the IIHF Women’s World Championship.

The U.S. has played in the title game of every world championship since the event began in 1990, facing Canada in all but one of those games.

“To me, U.S. versus Canada is the best game you can watch in our sport. And it's the one that everybody is gearing up for,” said Katie Crowley, a three-time Olympian and current Boston College coach who also participated in six world championships from 1997-2005.

Sunday’s opening faceoff is set for 1:30 p.m. ET.

The matchup has a history of hard-fought contests. In 31 meetings at the world championship, the U.S. has won 16 times, but Canada holds the edge in gold medals with 11 to the Americans’ nine.

It has been just seven months since Canada took home the gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 with a 3-2 win over the Americans and a year since Canada won gold at the 2021 world championships with a 3-2 overtime victory.

Those losses are what drove the Americans to get better, especially on the hardest days, said U.S. forward Jesse Compher.

“It's not what any of us wanted and I think that that's just fueled our fire every single day,” said Compher, a 2022 Olympian from Northbrook, Illinois. “That's something that you keep in the back of your head when you're working out when you're skating every single day. So to bring that fire and to keep working every day, I think that that's just going to make us that much better when we step on the ice tomorrow (Sunday).”

It will be the first medal-round game for new U.S. coach John Wroblewski, who got his first taste of the rivalry Tuesday when Team USA defeated Canada 5-2 in the preliminary round.

“When that puck drops, the plan goes out the window and their instincts take over,” Wroblewski said.

Amanda Kessel competes during the women's ice hockey gold-medal match against Team Canada at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 17, 2022 in Beijing.


Taylor Heise, a 22-year-old from Lake City, Minnesota, has been a breakout star of the tournament. She is the leading scorer with 13 points (5 goals, 8 assists) and is within reach of the tournament assist and scoring records. This will be her first medal-round game against the Canadians at the senior level, though she was a three-time gold medalist at the U-18 level.

A calm demeanor and trust in her teammates have led Heise to her success.

“When you're so comfortable with your talent, with your hard work, I think tomorrow we're going to come out and we're going to have such a game face on and be ready to go,” Heise said. “This is why we get up. Why we train. This is why we do what we do every single day.”

U.S. forward Amanda Kessel, a three-time Olympic medalist, is playing in her sixth world championship, but her longevity in the sport is what makes her appreciate the excitement of a gold-medal game.

“(Beijing) was a really disappointing loss for us,” Kessel said. “These kinds of opportunities don't come by that often. You never know when you're going to get the opportunity to go into another world championship gold medal game. You never can take them for granted.”

Success in this tournament has gone in spurts for both sides. Prior to Canada’s victory in 2021, the Americans had won five consecutive world titles and eight of the last nine contests. But Canada won the tournament’s first eight gold medals, beginning in 1990.

The U.S. won its first Olympic gold medal in 1998, but didn’t win a world championship until 2005.

Winning gold and beating their rival is what drives both teams. On the hardest practice days, knowing that the Canadians were working as just as hard is what pushed Crowley to keep going.

“They had won all those world championships,” Crowley said. “They were at the top of the world at that point. We hadn’t had any of that. We hadn't touched any of that gold and had that feeling. I think they had the momentum because they had that confidence from winning. We didn’t know that confidence yet. It's a different mentality.”

The rivalry was just as heated, and maybe more so, in those past days. Relationships between the players were chilled. Far fewer Canadians were playing in the NCAA than do now and the players weren’t intermingling in pro leagues. The idea of working or playing alongside Canadian players would have appalled Crowley.

“You were going to do everything you could to beat this team and I know they felt the same way,” Crowley said. “It didn't matter what game you were playing in. It could be a regular exhibition game and you’d be just as fired up as if it was a gold medal game. It was us or them. That battle is like nothing else.”

Nicole Haase

Nicole Haase is a freelancer for TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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