Wednesday, February 18, 1998
States of disbelief for Canada
And last night our women wept, tried to sing O Canada together in their dressing room, then wept some more.
"At first, it was kind of disbelief," said Canadian captain Stacy Wilson after their 3-1 loss to the Americans in the gold-medal game yesterday. "This was a dream for so many years. And it's over. I thought of my friends and family and all of Canada. Thoughts lead to feelings. Then you get your medal, and you see it's silver and the feelings kick in pretty quick."
After standing their listening to The Star Spangled Banner, the Canadians came down the runway to their dressing room, most of them sobbing. Judy Diduck, of Sherwood Park, Alta., was one of the few who was composed enough to talk.
"They played better," she said. "They played three periods. We played one. Hats off to them."
She saw her medal different than most.
"We came to get gold. We didn't get it. But this is a silver medal at the Olympics," she said.
What happened here many could see coming from the minute the tournament began. Against the advice of their mentor coach, Clare Drake, Canada played the Americans 13 times on the way to the Olympics. They allowed themselves to be used by the Americans to bring themselves up to their level.
Coach Shannon Miller is going to be much-maligned. She was out-coached, on and off the ice. Miller came here as an up-tight coach and both herself and her team were wound tighter and tighter as the tournament proceeded, while the Americans were on a completely opposite path.
"It came down to one game," said Fiona Smith, also of Sherwood Park. "We played our hearts out. We went into our dressing room and sang our own national anthem. Canada should have been proud of us.
"I'm wearing an Olympic silver medal, and how many people have one of these? It's been a huge thrill to play in the first women's hockey tournament in Olympic history. The Olympic experience has been phenomenal."
USA ON A ROLL: Team USA was the better team and deserved the gold. It beat Team Canada twice in this tournament and in five of seven games over the past two months. Canada still has victories over the U.S. in the past four world-championship finals.
HAYLEY HURTING: After the game, it was revealed that Hayley Wickenheiser, Canada's best player, was handicapped by two separate injuries. Against Sweden six days ago, she suffered a strained medial collateral ligament in her right knee, and on Saturday she cut her right her elbow against the U.S. and needed stitches.
"It may have a hairline fracture,"Wickenheiser said. "They won't be able to tell for sure until the swelling goes down."
TURNING POINT: Thanks to some solid goaltending from Manon Rheaume, Canada trailed the Americans only 1-0 midway through the third period. Then Danielle Goyette ran into a U.S. player at centre ice and received a penalty for body checking. Shelley Looney scored to put Team USA up 2-0.
Goyette insists the contact with the U.S. player was accidental (bodychecking is illegal in women's hockey) and that the penalty was unwarranted.
"Anyone who knows me, knows I would not do that," Goyette said. "I'm too afraid."
But Miller was unsympathetic.
"I have a different interpretation," she said. "I think Danielle Goyette threw a bodycheck and deserved a penalty. And, yes, it was a turning point in the game."