The hot-blooded USA vs Canada women’s hockey rivalry comes to a full boil, Wednesday Feb 12th, as these two countries may be the best team rivalry people know the least about. First, you get to watch two teams at the top of their games, pushing each other to constantly improve. Second, they have long histories that are played out once a year or more, but every four years at the Olympics it’s a completely different story. U.S.-Canada women’s hockey is the Olympics’ most intense team rivalry, partly because it’s the pinnacle of the sport for women. Women hockey players have no Stanley Cup to hoist and little in the way of professional leagues. The Olympics is their everything. They’re so evenly matched every year, it’s just hard to say one is clearly better than the other. But, Team USA enters this matchup as -140 moneyline favorites over Canada (+115). Below is my preview and prediction for this rivalry while there’s plenty of Olympic Betting action left to go in Sochi.
Of the 19 world championships and Olympics played since 1990, the U.S. and Canada have met in the gold-medal finals 18 times. The only time the teams did not play the final was in the 2006 Olympics, where Sweden beat the U.S. in the semifinals, and Canada went on to win the title.
Canada leads in world championships, 10 to five, but the U.S. has won four of the past five.
Just because these are women playing hockey, don’t expect a dainty little game where players don’t lay bone crunching hits or drop the gloves. Referees issued 10 fighting major penalties following a brawl triggered when Jocelyne Lamoureux hit Brianne Jenner with an illegal bodycheck after Jenner knocked down U.S. teammate Josephine Pucci. Four other U.S. players joined the fray, including Jocelyne’s twin sister, Monique, with nine seconds left in a 4-1 U.S. win in December. That came after a 10-player fight in October.
“In the NHL they hire fighters, but it’s not a part of our game,” former U.S. forward Erica Lawler, a member of the 2010 Olympic team and 2012 world championship team said. “However, what I liked about that fight in Burlington was that you saw people playing out of passion… When push comes to shove, you’ve got to have your teammates’ back no matter what.”
There are no glaring weaknesses, but the defensive group is relatively inexperienced. There are a lot of first-time Olympians back there and some youth as well. I believe Gigi Marvin and Kacey Bellamy are the only two returnees on defense, so that’s going to be something to keep an eye on. They’re all talented women though and there’s some size on the blue line as well. You just never know how the size of the situation wears on the younger players and if they’re ready for that kind of attention.
Sochi 2014 – Women’s Olympic Hockey
When: Wednesday Feb 12th@4:30 AM PT
Pick: Canada +115
The Bottom Line: the U.S. are favorites, but I would stop short of saying by far. Canada still has talent, they have gold-medal experience, what makes this year different is the surprise coaching change. That flipped the whole thing on its head and Canada has only one win with coach Kevin Dineen.We recommend you sign up with Bovada to receive a 10% sign up bonus heading into the 2014 Winter Olympics.