Women’s Hockey Preview: U.S. Eager to Repeat

(AP) — Forward Brianna Decker was unable to contain her enthusiasm in being selected to represent the United States in hockey for a third Olympics. She then bluntly declared the team’s one and only objective heading to the Beijing Games next month.

“Our business isn’t finished until we come back with a gold medal,” Decker said.

Though she didn’t have to say it, Canada — who else? — is standing in their way.

The United States is the defending Olympic champion after beating Canada in a nail-biting 3-2 shootout win in South Korea in 2018 to end Canada’s run of four Olympic titles. And yet, Canada is the reigning world champion after punching back with a 3-2 overtime win in August.

“Yeah, it’s been a while since we’ve lost to them,” Decker said. “It’s really a sad thing, but you know, sometimes you’ve got to lose to get a little bit more out of your team and out of yourself.”

At first glance, Canada appears to have the advantage with speed and experience. The U.S. relies more on a puck-control offensive style to set up in-close chances from Hilary Knight and Alex Carpenter, who returns after being left off the 2018 roster.

Barring what would be considered a major upset, the rest of the field continues playing catchup.

The Finns beat Switzerland to win bronze at the world championships. At the 2019 world championships on home soil, Finland upset Canada in the semifinals and came a disallowed goal in overtime away from beating the Americans.