February 23, 2006

W. Hockey's Davidson Wins Gold for Canada

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Another member was added to the small group of Cornell’s Olympic gold medalists this past week, when women’s hockey head coach Melody Davidson lead the Canadian women’s ice hockey team to the gold medal in Torino, Italy. The team defeated Sweden 4-1 on Monday to win its second-straight Olympic gold medal. Davidson, who was an assistant on the 2002 Canadian squad that also won the gold, is on leave from the university for the 2005-2006 season.

The 4-1 victory was not the rematch against the U.S. predicted by many before Sweden’s stunning defeat over the United States, but Canada sent upstart Sweden home nonetheless with the same thrashing it had planned for its American archrivals.

Behind 19-year-old goalie Kim Martin, Sweden managed a 3-2 shootout win over the United States on Friday in a semifinal that was immediately hailed by some as one of the greatest match-ups in the sport’s history.

But starting with Gillian Apps’ goal on a backhander just 3:15 into the first period, Canada showed it wouldn’t be denied in its chance to repeat as champions.

Jayna Hefford added a goal and an assist, and Caroline Ouellette and Cherie Piper also scored during the first two periods. Canada dominated stretches of play for much of the game, with Gunilla Andersson scoring a goal to put Sweden on the board in the third, ruining Canadian goaltender Charline Labonte’s shutout bid. The goal was just the second of the tournament that Canada allowed.

Since women’s hockey became an Olympic sport in 1998, the Canadians have won two gold medals and a silver medal, finishing second in the 1998 Nagano games and winning in Salt Lake City four years ago. For the Swedes, the loss marked the nation’s highest finish in this Olympics for a team event.

Although it may not have won the game, Sweden had already won its biggest prize by making history with its defeat of the US in the semifinals. No North American team had ever lost in an international tournament, except to one another. The shocker was tough for the U.S. but came as a welcome development for a sport that is seeing its attempts at parity fail.

The Canadian women routed their first four opponents in Turin and never let up, eventually outscoring opponents 46-2 by the end of the tournament. Davidson’s squad executed a nearly flawless tournament on both ends of the ice, and the huge scoring discrepancies made that quite evident to those in the arena.

With the victory, Davidson became Cornell’s eighteenth gold medal winner, but just the sixth since 1950. Doug Derraugh, the Red’s interim head coach, has led a resurgent Red team to a much-improved record of 9-17, with two games to play. The team only won four games last season.

The final two contests of the season come this weekend when Mercyhurst visits Lynah Rink for a pair of games with the Red. The two games give Cornell the chance to double its win total from the 2004-2005 campaign.

Archived article by Jacob Lieberman
Sun Staff Writer