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February 7, 2014 - Ron Deuter
Hockey is always a highlight of watching the Olympics. But the hockey to keep on eye on this time around might be the women’s — which basically boils down to heated rivals USA and Canada.
The U.S. and Canada have won all four golds, three silvers and a bronze at the Olympics and world championships. No other nation has even made a title game.
Canada is after its fourth straight gold, and that doesn’t sit well with other teams, namely the U.S.
In fact, a few of the Canada’s pre-Sochi exhibition games ended with brawls.
"The passion behind the rivalry is something that fuels our play every day," U.S. captain Megan Bozek told the Associated Press. "We face them so many times over our careers, and it's always an incredible hockey game."
A full five-on-five brawl broke out at the end of the Americans’ 4-1 victory over Canada in Grand Forks, N.D., six weeks ago. As the theme from “Rocky,” blared out of the arena's sound system, the players went at it, some wrestling, some exchanging blows. The referees called 10 major penalties for fighting, as well as various minors.
“If [Canadian] players are going to take cheap shots at our players,” U.S. coach Katey Stone said following the game, “there’s going to be an answer for that. We will not get pushed around.”
That game was the second time during the exhibition series that the American and Canadian women staged an all-out brawl, the other one took place in October in Burlington, Vt., when the Canadians were not happy about a U.S. skater running into their goalie.
The U.S. team begins Saturday, Feb. 8 against Finland. Canada and the U.S. hook-up Wednesday, Feb. 12.
The Gold Medal game is set for Thursday, Feb. 20.
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