By Ethan Diamandas, Dan Plouffe, Martin Cleary & Charlie Pinkerton (This article was first sent to subscribers of the Ottawa at the Olympics Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive it, for free, here.)
Ottawa at the Olympics Day 7: Rattray scores deciding goal in rivalry game
Any Canada-U.S. women’s hockey game at the Winter Olympics is always expected to be a highlight — and Monday night’s round robin matchup didn’t disappoint.
The U.S. came out flying, attacking Canada from every angle and putting the pressure on goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens, who stopped 51 shots. From the opening puck drop, it was clear both teams were amped up.
When such evenly matched teams square off, the final result often comes down to who controls the special teams game. Capitalizing on the powerplay is huge, but so is staying out of penalty trouble, and Canada hasn’t done well with the latter — leading the Olympic tournament with 48 penalty minutes.
After the Canada-U.S. rivalry series matchup at TD Place in November, Jamie Lee Rattray spoke about how Canada plays strong when its stays out of the box.
“I think we just learned that we need to play our way and continue to do the things that make us successful,” she said. “And honestly, when we stay disciplined, when we start playing that way, it’s very hard to compete with us.”
The U.S. drew the first penalty and Canada drew first blood when Brianne Jenner popped a top-shelf one-timer goal to give her team the early edge. The goal parade continued in the second period, with the Americans scoring two straight before Canada equalized.
Then, one of Ottawa’s own potted the difference-maker. Natalie Spooner cycled the puck behind the net, when Rattray saw a lane, cut to the net and shouted “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
Spooner fed Rattray the puck in front and she buried it.
A big smile on her face, the Kanata native pumped her fists and hugged her teammates, as her third goal of the Games wound up being the deciding factor in Canada’s 4-2 victory.
What makes the rivalry game so special?
One quote said it all.
“We want to punish each other, within the rules,” U.S.A. forward Hilary Knight told the broadcast before the game.
There’s always plenty of animosity between the Canadians and Americans. With six of their last 12 games having gone to overtime, a close, hard-fought game was inevitable. Canada has four Olympic gold medals, but the U.S. won the most recent one in PyeongChang, handing the Canadians an unwanted silver.
And that loss wasn’t forgotten by anyone on Team Canada.
“The buzz during pre-game talks or breakfast, there’s a little extra dialled in focus,” Canadian coach Troy Ryan told the Toronto Sun before the game. “It’s really fun to watch this group of young players dive into it.
“As a coach, you always wish your athletes would prepare and focus and be ready for every game the same way. But I think we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t notice the difference in these American games.”
It’s a high-strung rivalry, and Rattray left her mark by netting the game-winner, pushing her up to six total points during her first Olympics.
“It feels good to get some points and stuff like that, but I think overall, you can be really happy about how we are playing as a team,” Rattray said in an interview with the Ottawa Sports Pages’ Dan Plouffe after Canada opened with 12-1 and 11-1 victories . “The goals that we’ve scored, it’s kind of been from everywhere and different ways, and as a unit of five (players on the ice).
“It’s been fun to be a part of that, and with the way we’ve been playing, that just shows that the way we’ve been training all year has really started to come together.”
Day 8 Preview: Checking in with Ottawa-linked athletes
Gatineau’s Antoine Cyr competed in multiple cross-country skiing events recently, though placed far off the podium. The 23-year-old finished 42nd in the men’s 30-kilometre skiathlon, and finished 56th in the men’s sprint qualification stage Tuesday.
But by simply competing at Beijing, Cyr hit a major milestone.
“It’s a dream come true for any athlete,” Cyr told the Sports Pages in January. “I still can’t believe I’m going to the Olympics.”
On the women’s side, Chelsea’s Katherine Stewart-Jones finished 23rd in the 15km skiathlon. The 26-year-old told the Ottawa Sun in April 2021 she wanted to finish top-10, but said she’ll be satisfied with her performance regardless, since she’s achieved plenty of personal goals in her journey to Beijing.
Laura Leclair, also from Chelsea, finished 58th in the women’s sprint qualification heat.
In alpine, Valérie Grenier, from St. Isidore (a small Ontario town about halfway between Ottawa and Montreal) disqualified herself during the giant slalom event when she skiied into a gate mere seconds from the finish line.
Looking ahead, CFLer-turned-bobsledder Jay Dearborn, who is from Yarker, near Kingston, will compete in one of Canada’s three sleds in the four-man bobsled event, beginning Feb. 16. Dearborn’s sled will be piloted by Taylor Austin, and his teammates are Chris Patrician and Daniel Sunderland.
Devon Levi, a 20-year-old from Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que. who played a season for the CCHL’s Carleton Place Canadians, is also expected to rotate in as one of Team Canada’s three hockey goalies once the men’s tournament begins Feb. 10.
If you’ve been putting in a medal-worthy performance of your own keeping track of all Ottawa’s athletes, these next few days offer the opportunity to get some rest.
None of them will compete until Thursday morning (eastern time). Come later this week, Ottawa’s Olympians have a packed schedule — with the city’s speedskaters, curlers, hockey players and sliders all set to start or resume competition even before the weekend begins.
In lieu of any Ottawa Olympians competing over the next couple of days, we’d like to recommend you check out a few recent stories that High Achievers columnist Martin Cleary wrote last week about Beijing attendees who aren’t there to compete.
- Roger Archambault, uOttawa’s associate athletic director, who’s approaching a double-digit number of Games accompanying Team Canada athletes. You’ll hear his voice doing play-by-play in this Olympics’ biathlon event.
- Dirk Van Wijk, a ski-trail groomer, who’s working with a team of Chinese counterparts to keep Beijing’s routes fresh.
- Kim Thompson, a performance coach from uOttawa, who’s helping Canada’s women’s hockey players keep their composure.
To ensure you don’t lose track of when Ottawa’s Olympians are back in action, keep tabs on our schedules tool, which you can also export to your calendar.
The lull in competition won’t last long, so hang tight for some big updates to come!
This article was first sent to subscribers of the Ottawa at the Olympics Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive it, for free, here.
HELP SHINE A LIGHT ON LOCAL SPORT! The Ottawa Sports Pages has proudly provided a voice for local sport for over 10 years, but we need your help to continue another 10 and beyond. Please donate to the Ottawa Sports Pages Fund today.