Friday, February 22, 2002
Our women are golden
By STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah -- Maybe it's a sign these Olympics will turn out right for Canada in the end. Maybe it's an omen.
The Canadian women's hockey team, written off for dead or the Olympic silver medal -- which is about the same thing in women's hockey -- beat a strong American team and a pro-American referee to win Canada's third gold medal of the Olympic Games last night.
This time there was no protest, no question, no doubt.
12 AND COUNTING
This was Canada's second medal of the day -- earlier Kelley Law's rink won the curling bronze -- and the 11th Canadian medal of the Winter Olympics.
Only five countries have more.
Canada actually has 12 medals, three short of the number in Nagano, if you count that Kevin Martin is slated to play in the men's curling final.
But make no mistake. For Canada, these have been the women's Games. Three gold medals. A woman involved in all of them.
First, Catriona LeMay Doan in speed skating. Then Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, half of them a woman, won a belated gold medal. And last night, the much criticized, much wondered about, seemingly down-and-out women's hockey team silenced the chants of U-S-A, U-S-A and held their composure long enough to earn a 3-2 victory and a remarkable gold medal.
The gold medal they wanted so badly four years ago.
But there has been something about the Canadian women here, and not just the hockey players.
There is a determination not necessarily evident with most male athletes here. It was obvious last night in watching the hockey team, that they came out determined, and two words came to mind.
Two loud words.
Go ahead and do it.
But it ain't going to be easy.
That seemed to be the kick-ass attitude and it resulted in an early goal for Canada and, more importantly, a late enormous goal in the final seconds of the second period that changed this game.
A goal by Jayna Hefford, the cop from Toronto, on a wild play that may or may have been offside.
But if Canada got that call, it was just about the only call that went their way all night. A night where they spent almost as much time killing penalties as they did playing at even strength.
Most impressive, however, was the Canadian resolve. It's what we love to see in our hockey. It's what we admire most about our athletes.
Take stock of the past two weeks.
LeMay Doan and Cindy Klassen came up big, Jeremy Wotherspoon came up small.
Veronica Brenner and Deidra Dionne came up huge in aerials. The men's aerials team of contenders were close to the podium, just not close enough.
The entire Canadian men's Olympic team -- about 90 athletes in all -- have combined for two bronze medals. In short track speed skating of all things.
But the men should get their opportunity on Sunday. The way the women got theirs last night at the E-Center. The women talked about this almost every day since losing as the favourites in Nagano. Now the opposite has occurred and you can't help but wonder if the same will be true for the Canadian men.
They, too, were favoured in Nagano but, unlike the women, they came away with nothing. Now, here and written off early, they almost certainly will play for gold. And once you do, as the women showed last night, you can score an early goal, you can get great goaltending, you can score a late fluky goal to end a period.
And you can win a gold medal in the process.
The third gold medal of the Winter Olympics for Canada. The women's Games for Canada. Winning at our game.
The best game of all.
The best result.
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2002 Games Columnists