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Canada wins Olympic gold in women's hockey, toppling rival Team USA

BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 17: Team Canada looks on during the medal ceremony after winning the Women's Ice Hockey Gold Medal match between Team Canada and Team United States on Day 13 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Wukesong Sports Centre on February 17, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Team Canada beat defending champion Team USA in the women's ice hockey gold medal match at Wukesong Sports Centre in Beijing on Thursday.

Canada defeated the United States 3-2 in the women's ice hockey final on Thursday, triumphing over its longtime rival — and the defending Olympic champion — to win its fifth gold medal in the sport.Either Canada or the U.S. has won every gold medal since women's hockey was introduced to the winter Olympics in 1998, with Team USA most recently beating its northern neighbor in the gold medal match at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. It will be taking home a silver medal, the fourth in its history, after failing to make up for Canada's strong start.The Canadians took a 2-to-0 lead in the first period, extending that to 3 before the U.S. could score its first goal. The Americans scored again with just 13 seconds left in the game, but by that point, it was too late.Players and coaches from both teams reflected on the match, speaking to reporters at the Wukesong Sports Centre."It was one hell of an effort. This is redemption," said Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored two of the game's goals and became the only ice hockey player — male or female — to score in four Olympic Games finals.Canada's head coach, Troy Ryan, said it was great to see the team's hard work pay off."I felt they just battled hard and found ways to get in front of pucks," he said. "They were able to score, but we were able to kill enough time off the clock."Team USA had 40 shots on goal, double what Canada attempted."We were never going to give up. We knew that," said U.S. defender Lee Stecklein. "We're disappointed at the outcome but very proud of our team."There were notable individual accomplishments, too.Team USA's Hilary Knight, who put her team on the scoreboard during Thursday's game, became the fourth player from the U.S. to win four Olympic Games medals in ice hockey.Canada's Sarah Nurse is taking home the title of the overall scoring leader in the Games, with five goals and 13 assists for a total of 18 points — breaking a record set by Canada's Hayley Wickenheiser in 2006. Teammate Brianne Jenner scored the most goals at Beijing 2022, with nine.Rounding out the podium, Finland defeated Switzerland 4-0 on Wednesday to claim the bronze medal for a fourth time.The Canadian athletes appeared eager to celebrate their return to the throne, with many noting the teammates enjoy each others' company off the ice too. Natalie Spooner said the night would likely involve some singing and dancing."Our group is so much fun that when we're around each other we have a blast," Spooner said. "I'm sure tonight is going to be no different."

This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog. Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.