In the 21 times the women’s hockey world championship has been contested since 1990, Canada and the United States met in the title match 20 times, with the Canadians winning 12 and the Americans nine.
It’s considered one of the best rivalries in the sport for a reason. At the highest level of women’s hockey, these two North American giants deliver time and time again. There is a deep mutual respect rooted in decades of iconic moments. And there’s a distinctive fierceness, intensity and unmatched passion when these two hit the ice.
Here we go again.
This year’s championship is underway in Brampton, Ont., and pundits and fans alike are once again predicting the obvious ending: Canada vs. USA for women’s hockey supremacy.
The first meeting comes on Monday in a round-robin game that will decide the placement of Pool A. Every time the Americans take the ice against their neighbors to the north they want to make a statement.
“I like to beat everybody. I like to win. It’s an addiction,” USA captain Hilary Knight told CBC Sports.
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She wouldn’t go much further when talking about the rivalry. When she was pressed about a possible gold medal game looming between the two foes, Knight smiled and offered a brief response.
“It’s going to be a great game,” he said.
History backs up his answer and Knight would know it. She has been a part of this rivalry since the 2007 world championships, when she was the youngest player on a US team that finished second to team Canada. She got her first taste of revenge the following year when the USA defeated Canada to win gold.
This marks the first time Knight will wear the “C” as captain of the US team. The announcement was made just a day before the start of the tournament.
“It’s a tremendous honor. I really can’t put into words what it means, outside of the honor, to lead such an incredible team. Our room is so strong with incredible leaders,” he said.
Through 13 appearances, the 33-year-old Knight is the career leader in points (89) and goals (53) at the women’s world championships. She has won eight golds and four silvers to go with one Olympic gold and three silvers.
It seems like every time Canada and the USA play for gold at the world championships or the Olympics, there are heart-stopping moments, including post-hits, last-second scores, overtime and penalty kick magic.
Right now, the momentum is on the side of the Canadians. They have won the last two world championships, are the reigning Olympic gold medalists, and most recently notched four straight victories in a stunning comeback victory over the USA in the seven-game Rivalry Series.
“We’ll leave the last segment of the Rivalry Series out of this,” USA head coach John Wroblewski said. “Canada outclassed us. It shows how dangerous they are.
“I hate losing. I love winning. It’s about providing the right platform for our team to get better.”
Unlike Knight, Wroblewski is relatively new to all of this. He took over as head coach of this team a year ago after spending the past two seasons coaching the Ontario Reign, the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s LA Kings.
Wroblewski got her first taste of the women’s hockey rivalry last September at the world championships when she was behind the bench for Canada’s 2-1 gold medal victory in another tight and tense affair.
“It’s an honor to be a part of this. I watched all those games back in the day on TV,” he said. “You really can’t fully appreciate it until you get to ice level. The respect the teams have for each other is tremendous and the desire to win is immense. Words cannot express it. I love the passion with which both teams play against each other. the other”. other.”
Wroblewski calls Canada a team without any weaknesses at the moment, but is quick to remind people that anything can happen in the world championship.
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“When you go into those one-game matchups, anybody can beat anybody,” he said. “It’s all about captivating your team spirit that day. Who will show up and bring that extra degree to that game?”
The American coach is excited about his youngest squad that features five players making their world championship debut, including 19-year-old Haley Winn. The United States had already won an Olympic gold medal in 1998, and she idolized players like Knight growing up.
“It’s pretty surreal,” she said of now being Knight’s teammate. “I’ve admired her since I started, so to be around her is amazing. I’m trying to take in every moment.”
That includes being a part of the rivalry you’ve seen your entire life.
“It started when I watched the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. Obviously, I was lucky to make the under-18 team, so that’s when it started for me on the ice,” Winn said. “It’s definitely as big as it gets. These two teams are the best in the world and it’s always a battle.”
“We have great respect for them. I’m very excited to be a part of this on the biggest stage.”