A five game winning streak for most teams constitutes a pretty significant achievement; not enough to bust out the champagne but certainly worthy of a day off or even an optional practice or two.
Five consecutive Championships? Well, that’s the kind of exalted heights that only the most famous teams in history can lay claim to.
But five straight Olympic victories? That’s something special, and that’s what our Canadian Women’s Ice Hockey team is streaking towards in Pyeong-Chang. The years go by and the names do change, but the goal is always the same. Beat the US and bring home the only medal that counts. Gold!
With their 2-1 nail-biting win over the Americans on Wednesday night, the Canadian Women’s Hockey Team continued its dominance under the Olympic spotlight with its 23rd consecutive victory. That isn’t a typo, by the way. The Canadian squad is looking to come home from South Korea with their fifth straight gold medal, and despite being badly outshot on the ice, it was the scoreboard that told the final tale: Canada beats the USA (again). Another rematch, this one for all the marbles, certainly awaits.
It has been generally accepted that Canada and the US would face off for Gold ever since the women were given the green light to compete in 1998, and that’s really not about to change twenty years later despite the marked improvement of several hockey nations. Sure, other teams are getting better but unless there is an upset of epic proportions, it’ll be ‘us and them’ at the finish line again. And that’s probably how it’s supposed to be, at least for the foreseeable future. As far as Olympic rivalries go, it may be the fiercest one in the history of sports. Think about it.
US won in 1998. Then Canada in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. That leaves 2018 up for grabs. Can you think of another rivalry, individually or team oriented, that has gone on for 20 years with two combatants totally uncontested; having never allowed an interloper to even cause a ripple of doubt as to the final pairing? If you can, let me know.
I know I’m getting ahead of myself. Canada and the USA still have to both get to that Gold Medal Final before another chapter can be written in ice. A hot goalie or a bad bounce can change the course of history in a blink of an eye. It’s possible, just not very probable. In all likelihood, we’ll see the two squads lined up on their respective blue-lines for the sixth straight Winter Olympics and, make no mistake about it, there will be no love lost between them.
Legendary UCLA Bruins coach Red Sanders wasn’t talking about the Canadian and USA Women’s Hockey Olympic squads when he famously noted that “winning isn’t the only thing – it’s everything.” But he could have been. For the team that comes out on the losing end, silver just won’t be enough.
Listen for Canadian Olympic results and highlights on CBC Radio One, SiriusXM 169, every day at 6pm EST during the “World At 6.”