Canada takes a 16-year Olympic winning streak into today's women's ice hockey final against the U.S. as it seeks a fourth consecutive gold medal.
Canada hasn't lost in women's hockey at the Winter Games since 1998 in Nagano, Japan, and forwards Jayna Hefford, Hayley Wickenheiser and Caroline Ouellette can join former U.S. basketball player Lisa Leslie as the only female athletes to win gold in the same event in four straight Olympics.
"I've really tried to keep the focus on day-to-day versus Olympics-to-Olympics," Canadian coach Kevin Dineen said. "There are a lot of players in our locker room, though, that have a pretty special jewelry collection from down the line."
Two other athletes each won gold medals in four consecutive Winter Games: biathlete Alexander Tikhonov of the former Soviet Union from 1968 to 1980 and speedskater Claudia Pechstein of Germany from 1994 through 2006.
Canada beat the U.S. to win the women's hockey gold medal at both the 2002 and 2010 Olympics.
The Canadians also beat the Americans 3-2 in their preliminary-round matchup in Sochi on Feb. 12, erasing a 1-0 deficit with three third-period goals. Forward Monique Lamoureux of the U.S. said the team sat through an intense 45-minute review of that game in which a number of players, including herself, were called out for their mistakes.
"Things aren't always going to go well but it is how you respond and how you bounce back that will determine your character as a player, a teammate and as a team," Lamoureux told the Olympic News Service. "After that game we weren't happy. Not necessarily because we just lost but because we knew we didn't play our best hockey by far."
The U.S. is listed as the 5-7 favorite to win today's game, according to online sportbook Bovada.lv, with a bettor having to wager $140 on the Americans to win $100. A winning $100 bet on Canada would return $120. The U.S. was the last women's hockey team to beat the Canadians at the Olympics, with two victories in 1998, including 3-1 in the gold medal game.
Four years ago in Vancouver, Canada beat the U.S. 2-0 to win the gold. Hefford, who has one goal and two assists in Sochi, said her teammates know what it takes to be champion and make some Olympic history in the process.
"I remember feeling in Vancouver that we were just really prepared, confident and ready to play," Hefford said. "I believe this group is ready as well. We've put in all the hard work and now it's just a matter of executing it."
Switzerland plays Sweden in today's bronze medal game.
--Editors: Michael Sillup, Dex McLuskey
To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewskibloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillupbloomberg.net