SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The puck trickled under Jesse Vetter’s pads and over the goal line, and then the whistle blew.
Or was it the other way around?
The Canadian women’s hockey team beat the United States and captain Meghan Duggan of Danvers, 3-2, yesterday in a tense preview of the expected gold medal match.
Both teams now advance to the semifinals at the Winter Olympics, which will be played Monday.
Duggan finished with one shot on goal and took a second period penalty for interference while delivering several big checks in a very physical contest.
Canada took a 21 lead on Hayley Wickenheiser’s controversial third-period goal. Meghan Agosta had scored in the second period to tie the game 1-1, and then her team added the go-ahead goal 93 seconds later on a shot that U.S. goalie Jesse Vetter seemed to have stopped, drawing a whistle from referee Anna Eskola of Finland.
But the puck slid through Vetter’s pads and over the goal line. A video — and presumably audio — review confirmed the puck went into the net before the whistle.
“You celebrate when you see the puck cross the line,” said Wickenheiser, who is participating in her fifth Winter Games. “It doesn’t matter how.”
But Vetter said she thought the whistle had blown before the puck came loose. American coach Katey Stone was even more sure of it.
“I did hear a whistle blow before the puck went in,” she said. “But, more importantly, I said to our players, ‘Regardless of what happens, let’s be ready.’”
The Americans allowed Agosta to break into the zone by herself and beat Vetter with just over five minutes remaining — the second goal of the game for the MVP of the 2010 Olympics — giving Canada a 3-1 lead. The U.S. pulled the goalie and cut the deficit to one on Anne Schleper’s goal with 65 seconds left, but even with a power play that gave them a 6-on-4 advantage they couldn’t tie it.
It was the Canadians’ third consecutive Olympic victory over the U.S., including the gold medal games in Vancouver and Salt Lake.
Hilary Knight also scored and Vetter stopped 28 shots for the United States, which also had secured a spot in the semis already. Charline Labonte made 25 saves for Canada, which had already earned a bye into the semifinals and now will take the No. 1 seed into the playoffs.
If they both win, they would meet again in the final.