2002 Olympics bring Canada a hockey Gold rush

by Kim McCullough | 2/26/02 6:00am

It was fate. After half a century of close calls, we finally fulfilled our destiny.

Canadians eat, sleep and breathe hockey. It is a long running joke that we learn to skate before we learn to walk, but we simply have to win when it comes to hockey. It is our national sport, after all. It had been 50 long years since Canada managed to bring home the gold from the Olympic games. Now, we've got two.

Any Canadian who has turned on a TV or opened a newspaper in the last 10 months knows that if the Canadian hockey team had come home from Salt Lake City with a medal of any other color than gold, it would have been a major disappointment.

Failure was not an option. Second wasn't good enough -- especially if we were playing against the Americans. The dream match up between Canada and USA in men's hockey was well-publicized, but the same match up on the women's side is one of the fiercest rivalries in all of hockey.

The women's gold medal, though not publicized north of the border nearly as much as the men's accomplishment, was much more fulfilling than the men's victory for any fan of Canadian women's ice hockey. Canada's women's team pulled off an upset against the USA, exacting sweet revenge against the Americans, who pulled off the same feat four years ago in Nagano.

This past Thursday night, every member of the Dartmouth Women's hockey team crowded around the TV and watched a game that had been four years in the making. Sure, we were fighting for our second consecutive Ivy League title Friday and Saturday, but for two hours, nothing was more important.

Not only were the Canadians on our team outnumbered in the room, but every single member of our team still had a bitter taste in her mouth after our teammate Correne Bredin '02 had been cut from the Canadian team the day before the squad left for Salt Lake City. However, the Canadian team did include Cherie Piper '06, who was the last player named to the squad and assisted on the first Canadian goal of the gold medal game.

Piper will arrive on Dartmouth's campus next fall as the third Olympic gold medal winner in women's hockey from the College (the first two were Americans Sarah Tueting '98, who also played in Salt Lake City, and Gretchen Ulion '92, who won gold in 1998).

Each missed scoring chance brought half the team to their knees and each goal scored was met by both loud cheers and frustrated groans. Horrendous refereeing that gave the USA power-play after power-play would make it seem that female players are penalized every time they touch each other on the ice. Somehow, a less-talented Canadian team that had lost eight straight games to the Americans managed to win when all the chips were down, in the Americans' own backyard, no less.

Half the team was elated, the other half devastated, but we all learned an important lesson from the game: the underdog can win and win on the biggest stage. That will most certainly work in our favor as we enter the final stretch of our season and continue to fight our way back to the No. 1 spot.

Kim McCullough is a senior co-captain of the women's ice hockey team.