SOCHI, RUSSIA -  Canada celebrates Brianne Jenner's thitrd-period goal against the United States in the Olympics Ice Hockey Women's Gold Medal Game on Feb. 20, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Hide Caption
SOCHI, RUSSIA -  Meghan Duggan of the United States celebrates after scoring a second-period goal  against Canada in the Olympic Ice Hockey Women's Gold Medal Game  on Feb. 20, 2014. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Hide Caption
SOCHI, RUSSIA - Hilary Knight of the United States cross-checks Canada's Jayna Hefford during the Olympic Ice Hockey Women's Gold Medal Game at Bolshoy Ice Dome on Feb. 20, 2014. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Hide Caption
SOCHI, RUSSIA -  Brianna Decker of the United States shoots the puck during the Olympic Ice Hockey Women's Gold Medal Game at Bolshoy Ice Dome on Feb. 20, 2014. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Hide Caption
SOCHI, RUSSIA - Kacey Bellamy of the United States challenges Canada's Marie-Philip Poulin for the puck during the Olympic Ice Hockey Women's Gold Medal Game at Bolshoy Ice Dome on Feb. 20, 2014. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Hide Caption
SOCHI, RUSSIA -  Canada's Shannon Szabados makes a save against the United States during the Olympic Ice Hockey Women's Gold Medal Game at Bolshoy Ice Dome on Feb. 20, 2014. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Hide Caption

Sochi Olympics: Canada beats United States 3-2 in overtime for women's hockey gold medal

Americans blow late 2-0 lead, lose heartbreaker

a a a a
Share this story

SOCHI, Russia -  A two-goal lead blown in the final four minutes. A long shot that clanged off the post of an empty net. Two perplexing penalties in overtime, setting up a golden goal for Canada.

The U.S. women's hockey team has lost late in the last four Olympics, but never in such heartbreaking fashion as their 3-2 defeat on Thursday night.

While the Canadians received their fourth straight gold medals, the Americans were left blank-faced or crying at Bolshoy Ice Dome. Sixteen years after the first generation of U.S. players won the inaugural Olympic tournament, these Americans thought Canada's Olympic mastery over them had finally waned.

Instead, they've got four more years to think about how the Canadians manage to seize their sport's biggest moment while the U.S. gets left holding silver.

"To let them come back in the gold-medal game at the Olympics is the worst feeling in the world," said Kelli Stack, who nearly became an improbable hero with a long clearing attempt that hit the right post of an empty net late in regulation.

Stack actually knew she hadn't scored when she flipped the puck down the ice in the waning seconds. From her vantage point, she could tell it was going to hit the post even before that clunk of rubber against metal.

"If it would have been an inch to the right, it would have went in, and we would have won the gold medal," said Stack, shaking her head. "When pucks don't bounce your way, you've just got to know that it wasn't meant to be."

 Everything seemed dramatically different in the first 56 minutes. With a 2-0 lead, U.S. goalie Jessie Vetter appeared to be eminently capable of shutting out Canada for the first time in Olympic history, and the small contingent of U.S. fans was bouncing in its seats.

"I just kept thinking `We're going to win,"' said U.S. captain Meghan Duggan, who scored her team's first goal. "I looked over at one of our goaltenders, I said, `There's no way they're going to score two goals on Vetts. She's hot right now."'

What happened next is what Dughan calls "crazy mode" -- those frantic final minutes of a hockey game when the goalie skates to the bench and her teammates try anything to will the puck into the net.

The Bolshoy got crazy, all right. Brianne Jenner scored with 3:26 to play, banking a wide-flying shot off Kacey Bellamy's knee.

"Bad puck luck," Bellamy said.

Marie-Philip Poulin's  tying goal was another bad break: Vetter attempted a poke-check after the puck came out from behind the net, but it somehow went straight to Canada's soft-spoken Quebecois hero.

Even during the break before overtime, the Americans remained confident. Stack recalled only encouragement in the dressing room at a time when the Americans had expected to be celebrating.

And then in overtime, the whistles started.

Neither team could understand the referees' eagerness to call penalties in an Olympic overtime, which is already 4-on-4 hockey. Just six seconds after Canada's Catherine Ward was sent off for a big hit near the net, Jocelyne Lamoureux was penalized for slashing on a single whack at Shannon Szabados' pads with the puck underneath them.

"It stinks to go into an overtime in an up-and-down game and have so many penalties called," Stack said. "It would have been great if we could have played 4-on-4 for 20 minutes or whatever."

Moments later during 3-on-3 play, a bad U.S. line change gave a breakaway to Canada's Hayley Wickenheiser. Hilary Knight swooped in from behind, and Wickenheiser tumbled to the ice.

The officials curiously called Knight for cross-checking instead of either awarding a penalty shot or allowing play to continue. Replays showed no significant contact between the two, except perhaps Knight's right skate clipping Wickenheiser's right skate from behind -- which isn't cross-checking.

"I didn't touch her," Knight said. "She fell. That was a bogus call. But it's not about any one call."

Poulin ended it 39 seconds later.

The pain was palpable on the faces of the Americans, Canada's only rival in this young sport. The U.S. women really had seemed destined to triumph in Sochi, repeatedly playing better than the Canadians in exhibitions and tournaments. What's more, Canada coach Dan Church abruptly quit in mid-December.

Everything was in place for a U.S. breakthrough until Canada broke away again.

"You can't take the sting away," coach Katey Stone said. "You just have to tell them how proud you are of them and how much they mean to you and what a tremendous privilege and honor it was to be a part of it."

Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Print this article

More Olympics
Tri-State's Olympic hero still enjoying the ride
Tri-State's Olympic hero still enjoying the ride

Nick Goepper talks about girls, turning 20, his dating contest, being a role model and his plans in an interview with WCPO.

Lawrenceburg fetes Olympian with parade Saturday
Lawrenceburg fetes Olympian with parade Saturday

When Small Town America celebrates one of its own, it holds a parade. And that's what Lawrenceburg is doing for Nick Goepper.

Nick Goepper would flip to drive Indy pace car
Nick Goepper would flip to drive Indy pace car

What would be more fun: skiing around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or driving the pace car at the 500? Nick Goepper might find out.

Olympic skier Nick Goepper picks 'Dream Date'
Olympic skier Nick Goepper picks 'Dream Date'

It's fun to watch Nick Goepper hold a "Win A Dream Date with Nick" contest, but what about a "Be Nick Goepper" contest?

Lawmakers want to give Nick Goepper a tax break
Lawmakers want to give Nick Goepper a tax break

Olympic medalist Nick Goepper of Lawrenceburg might get a break on his state and federal taxes.

Perfect North fun before parade for Olympic hero
Perfect North fun before parade for Olympic hero

Nick Goepper took a break from his Olympic whirlwind to ski at Perfect North Slopes Wednesday. It was just like old times.

Nick Goepper happy to be back in the Tri-State
Nick Goepper happy to be back in the Tri-State

Goodbye Russia and the Olympics. Hello Lawrenceburg and Skyline Chili.

WATCH: Popo interviews Nick Goepper's family
WATCH: Popo interviews Nick Goepper's family

9 On Your Side sports director John Popovich sat down with the family of U.S. Olympian and eastern Indiana kid Nick Goepper for a…

Winter Olympics come to a close
Winter Olympics come to a close

Flushed with pride after its athletes' spectacular showing at the costliest Olympics ever, Russia celebrated Sunday night with a visually…

Finland and the US battle for bronze in hockey
Finland and the US battle for bronze in hockey

The US faced off against Finland in the bronze medal round of hockey on Saturday.