SOCHI, Russia – Marie-Phillip Poulin’s golden overtime goal will be the lasting memory of Canada’s victory over the U.S. in the Sochi Olympics women’s hockey final. But the controversial officiating in the later stages of the game will also linger on, in infamy.
“I think tripping, or cross-checking or whatever the call was, I think you have to touch the opponent, don’t you?” asked U.S. forward Hilary Knight, on her penalty on Canadian forward Halyey Wickenheiser that led to Poulin’s game-winning power play goal.
“I didn’t touch her.”
The third period of Canada’s gold medal win over the U.S. featured one penalty call, just seven seconds in on Canadian defenseman Tara Watchorn.
In 8:10 of overtime, there were three penalties called, the two most controversial calls came against the Americans.
With Catherine Ward in the penalty box for Canada on a cross-checking penalty, in which she hit a U.S. forward from behind during a scoring scramble, the U.S. power play lasted only 1:16. That’s because Jocelyne Lamoureux was whistled for slashing Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados, hitting her pads with her stick in an attempt to jar the puck loose.
Lamoureux had been cautioned about that infraction earlier in the game, but it was a call not too often seen in overtime – let alone overtime of a gold medal game.
“It's tough when we’re up a man and Canada’s looking for a call, and they were going to call anything when we were in front of their goalie,” said U.S. forward Kendall Coyne.
“There was miscommunication on our part for us to take another penalty.”
Knight’s cross-checking penalty came exactly 1:16 after Lamoureux’s slash. A breakdown for the U.S. defense led to Wickenheiser getting a breakaway in the 4-on-4 overtime. Replays were inconclusive; Knight’s skate may have nicked hers, or both fell independent of each other. But there wasn’t a clear attempt to pull down the Canadian star by Knight.
Canada may have been awarded a penalty shot on the play; instead, it was a 2-minute minor.
“I didn’t touch her. She fell. It was a bogus call. But it doesn’t rely on one call. We had plenty of opportunity,” said Knight.
Said Wickenheiser: “We got the call late in the game. The ref was a factor all night and it worked out for our favor in the end.”
U.S. Coach Katey Stone said there was no discussion by the officials as to whether the right call was made, and declined to comment on the quality of officiating.
Said Canada Coach Kevin Dineen: “All tournament, it’s only five games, but you get a little snapshot. When you’ve coached a long time, things tend to balance out. It was a quality game by everyone involved.”