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Thursday February 25, 2010 8:01 pm

Canada and US women play for gold in hopeful preview of men’s game

Olympic Women's HockeyIt was the match everybody wanted to see. Sort of. Team Canada took on the USA for gold in the women’s ice hockey and the Canadians prevailed for the third-straight Olympics, squeezing out a 2-0 win. The game packed Canada Hockey Place, and millions more tuned in to watch, but while the women delivered one of the most spectacular hockey games you’ll ever see, the long hair flowing under every helmet and facemasks covering eyes wearing eyeliner gave things a different feel.

Shannon Szabados tended goal while Marie-Philip Poulin lead the Canadians against an equally-powerful US lineup who just couldn’t find a way to solve Szabados as she shut the door for the gold. US goalie Jessie Vetter was second-best for less than three minutes, and Jenny Potter and Monique Lamoureux couldn’t quite find that scoring touch. These are the best women’s players in the world playing at the highest level in the world, but you can bet there are thousands out there who would trade that for an NHL regular season game.

The problem with women’s hockey is that it’s not men’s hockey. The stick handling is slower, the shots are weaker, the hits are smaller…That’s not to say that it’s not exciting hockey; just different. The girls in the gold medal game delivered about as entertaining a game as could be expected, and the fans in attendance ate up every minute of it. But still, these women have been playing together for the better part of a year, and it showed, but what makes women’s hockey great is not the same for the men.

The world market for women’s is nowhere near what it is for men’s. Canada and the US are about the only countries who can truly compete for gold at this point, and that has generated a lot of talk in Vancouver. The US had outscored their opponents 40-2, while the Canadians had outscored theirs 46-2. The only real threat to either team was each other. But it’s not the same on the men’s side. Almost every game has been competitive, and there’ve been plenty of upsets, and we’re not even through the semi-finals yet. With any luck, it will be the women’s turn to watch the men and Canada and the US will drop the puck for gold again on Sunday afternoon.

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