Everyone expected that Team Canada of the Olympic Women’s Hockey would win in their game today against Switzerland. And it looked, just past the halfway point in the first period, as though Canada would obliterate Switzerland. Once again the Olympics would show that in addition to skill, emotion and determination can at least make a win more difficult.

Photo: Hockey Canada

Photo: Hockey Canada

Canada was on the scoreboard first with a goal by Natalie Spooner (no relationship to Providence Bruins Ryan Spooner – he was asked via Twitter) at 7:29 of the first, assisted by Hayley Wickenheiser.

Switzerland would be called for two penalties back to back. They managed to kill off the first (and the few seconds of five on three after the second was called) and then just eight seconds after gaining back one of their players, Spooner would strike again, this time assisted by Catherine Ward in addition to Wickenheiser, which made up for a disallowed one just seconds before as a result of Spponer being in the crease (something that is a penalty in international play).

Before Switzerland’s goalie Florence Schelling could get her head back into the game from Canada’s power play goal, in just 23 seconds, Canada found the back of the net yet again. This time it would be Melodie Daoust assisted by Jennifer Wakefield.

Switzerland’s head coach, Rene Kammerer, called a time out to get his team refocused. For this women’s team, the fact that they were even in the medal round was a major accomplishment.

Photo: Northeastern University Athletics

Photo: Northeastern University Athletics

After the time out, Switzerland began to push back and Schelling–a Northeastern University alumni–shut the door for the remainder of the game, though Canada would have a few good bids for additional goals, including one in the third period that went in, but was disallowed because Schelling was pushed into the net by Meghan Agosta. Commentators and the Canadian team tended to disagree with the decision.

For the play-by-play and color commentator the fact that there was only a single referee on the ice for the women’s games was brought up a few times. And the disallowed goal was one of those instances. United States referee Erin Blair was back at the red line when the shot was made on the goal and followed into the net by Schelling and Agosta. The replays showed the puck in the back of the net, but it was difficult to determine just when it got across the line—before or after Schelling traveled into the net.

What had begun as a likely Canadian blow out, became an interesting north and south game as the Swiss kept coming back for more. And while Team USA sat waiting to hear who they would play in the Gold Medal round—and wishing it would be Team Canada—there were some in the stands and perhaps many watching (who were not in Switzerland) that perhaps hoped the Swiss could rebound.

Such was not the case, but the Swiss will go into the bronze medal game and their confidence is high at this point. The achievements of holding the Canadians to just three goals can’t help but boost that confidence. It is unknown if Schelling will be in net for the Swiss for the bronze medal, but if she is, it is likely that Team Sweden will encounter the same brick wall that stymied the Canadians as the game continued.

And for Team USA and Team Canada the grudge match will continue. When interviewing USA’s captain Meghan Duggan, after their win over Sweden earlier today, the question was brought up as to just how much animosity there was between the two teams. Duggan is from Danvers, Massachusetts and is a Boston Bruins fan, and the interviewer suggested that it could be as much “dislike” as that between the Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens. Duggan grinned. Likewise when interviewed during the first intermission of the Canada-Swiss game, Spooner also was looking forward to a rematch against Team USA.

In the end, the Swiss would fall to the Canadians, but in a respectable 3-1 score and are taking a determination to the bronze medal game for the win. And both Teams Canada and USA get the chance to again meet across the faceoff dot in Sochi, but unlike earlier in the round-robin, this game will bring with it all the emotions—some would call it hate—for each other and all the desire to be the team on the top podium.

A family historian by profession, Rhonda R. McClure has loved hockey since she was a child in New Hampshire. Any opportunity to combine her love of writing, hockey and research is something she looks forward to with much enthusiasm. She's been accused of seeking out shinny games when there are no other hockey events taking place. She is a member of the Society for International Hockey Research. Follow her on Twitter at @HockeyMaven1917.

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