Cornellians can now claim a two-time Olympic gold medalist among their ranks, as women’s hockey head coach Melody Davidson and the Canadian women’s national team earned its second consecutive gold medal with a 4-1 victory over Sweden yesterday in Torino, Italy.
“To defend the gold for our team and every Canadian back home is huge,” Hayley Wickenheiser, the tournament MVP, told the Associated Press. “For us, it’s all gold or nothing. There’s no other medal to win in this tournament. That’s the pressure we put on ourselves. We’re just happy we can land in Canada with everybody smiling.”
Davidson coached a team that outscored opponents in Torino by a 46-2 margin in five games. Although the prolific offense drew criticism, Davidson defended her team’s performance by arguing that Canada was merely executing a game plan it had spent seven ardrous months perfecting.
Team Canada got on the board first when Gillian Apps scored on a blind backhand just 3:15 into the contest. Jayna Hefford had a goal and an assist, while Caroline Ouellette and Cherie Piper also scored for the Canadians.
The Canadians turned in a dominating performance down the stretch, demonstrating with their forechecking, passing and defending why they are the best in the world. When the final buzzer sounded, the Canadian bench emptied as the women piled on goalie Charline Labonte so hard that they knocked the net from its moorings.
Popular opinion heading into the games predicted that Canada would face off against the Americans in the gold medal game – a sequel of the final match up in Salt Lake City in 2002. However, the Swedes pulled off a major upset in the semifinals, beating Team USA 3-2 in a shootout. The USA trounced Finland, 4-0, to bring home the bronze medal.
“We showed Hockey Canada is dominant,” Danielle Goyette told the AP. “This makes it worth everything we did, all the months we spent working on this day. We didn’t end up with the final match up we expected, but we got the same result.”
It was Sweden’s best showing in an international hockey tournament.