Canadian Women Capture Gold, Drink and Smoke On Ice
The following is a guest report from Laura Borden, sent directly following the Olympic Women’s Gold Medal game between Canada and The United States. Enjoy.
As a child, I wanted to be the first woman in the NHL, but my parents wouldn’t let me play hockey. When I was young, girls didn’t play hockey. And my Dad was a dentist. He didn’t want me to lose any teeth. I should probably thank him for that. Now, Olympic commercials don’t just show little girls in skating dresses – the little girls are on skates with ponytails hanging out of their helmets and sticks in their hands.
I’m proud to see women playing the sport that I love, as corny as that sounds. I watch a lot of NHL games and have really enjoyed being able to see the women get some time on TV. They are tough, skillful, and talented. I didn’t particularly like seeing some of the extremely lopsided games in which USA and Canada dominated, but it was all an exciting setup for the gold medal game.
Nothing Like Being There In Person!
Everything came to a grand finale today at the big game. USA vs. Canada. Neither team had been tested up to this point. Each game was won by at least six goals and as many as 18. But this was a true battle. I wish that all hockey games had the excitement of this one. The women fought for every puck, playing for the pride of their countries, and for the sport. The Canadian men’s team sat high above the ice to support the women.
Almost as exciting as the play on the ice was the action off the ice, on the way to the arena and in the stands. Unlike most NHL games, nearly every fan held a flag for their country. The crowd was knowledgeable and glued to every second of the game. Above all, the crowd was for the most part amicable and gracious to its opponents. Everyone was appreciative of the effort put out by both teams, regardless of the outcome.
I also found that the fans around me were pleasant and friendly. They asked where I was from and everyone talked about their favorite players. This was definitely not like a Flyers fan sitting next to a Rangers fan. I didn’t hesitate wearing my USA flag hat down the street as I left the venue. The Canadians give me a bit of a sympathetic look, but I still have the USA sticker on the my face, and I’m not forgetting about the men’s win earlier in the week, and a possible rematch for the gold.
Despite their strong performance, the USA women were noticeably dejected after the game, forcing to smile as they were given their silver medals and flower bouquets. They should be proud of themselves. They gave up two early goals and were able to shut down the unstoppable Canadians for the rest of the game. Unfortunately they couldn’t capitalize on two five-on-three man advantages and were unable to get past goalie Shannon Szabados. The netminder stopped all 28 USA shots to steal the game.
The Future of Women’s Hockey
On the other hand, the bronze-medal winning Finnish team exuded happiness as they paraded onto the ice for the victory ceremony. They battled against Sweden in an overtime 3-2 match. The third-place game showed that hockey isn’t just for USA and Canada and there will be contenders in the future, as long as the sports is preserved as an Olympic sports.
USA defender Angela Ruggiero was recently named to the IOC Athletes’ Commission. The Harvard graduate will surely fight to keep women’s hockey in the Games, despite the perception of a lack of parity in the sport. The lopsided games leading up to the gold medal matchup probably didn’t help her cause, but if the Finland/Sweden game was any indication of the women’s hockey for the future, there are only good things to come.
Too Much Public Celebration?
It’s a shame that the victory was blemished by the alleged inappropriate Canadian team’s celebration after the game. An investigation has been launched to look into the team drinking beer and champagne, and smoking cigars on the ice. I am not against a victory celebration, but the women were still wearing their uniforms with their gold medals around their necks. The women represent the host country and should be setting an example for the young girls who are watching them, as I wasn’t able to do as a child.
You can check out more from Laura at her Olympics Blog