Despite being North American neighbors, Canada and the United States are often more foe than friend when it comes to athletic contests. Such is the case with the hockey teams of the countries, which will face off in the men’s semi-finals at the Sochi Olympics on Friday. We’re taking a look back at some of the highlights in the competitive history between the two nations.
This first Olympic hockey tournament counted seven nations among its participants. Here, Canada bested their North American neighbors 2-0 in the semi-final game for the first strike in a lengthy competitive history. Canada went on to win the gold, while the U.S. took home the silver.
Despite previous games dictated by closeness, this one wasn’t. Canada put a hurt on the U.S., scoring 12 goals to the U.S.’ three. The Canadians went on to win gold, while the U.S. finished fourth. The U.S. wouldn’t get the better of Canada until the 1956 Olympics when they beat the Canadians 4-1 to take the silver.
The 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California, saw the U.S. team finally hitting their stride. Though Canada, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Sweden were the top four teams heading into the Games, all were eventually defeated by the U.S. team, which won all of its seven games en route to the team’s first Olympic gold medal.
1996 World Cup of Hockey
Before NHL players were allowed to compete in the Olympics, the NHL set up this international tournament, which pitted players from opposing North American teams against one another. Here, the U.S. team defeated Canada not once, but twice — both in pool play and the championship — with rosters that included Brett Hull (U.S.) and Wayne Gretzkey (Canada.)
After losing 4-1 to Canada in pool play at the Nagano Olympics in 1998 — the first year with NHL players on Olympic teams — the U.S. lost again to Canada in Salt Lake City. Canada beat the U.S. 5-2 and won its first hockey gold since 1952.
In the upcoming semifinals, the U.S. men are getting their chance to avenge a devastating 3-2 overtime loss to Canada in the 2010 Olympic championship game, which saw U.S. left winger Zach Parise tie the game with 24.4 seconds left in the third period — and then Sidney Crosby scored the game-winner for Canada. The current captain of the U.S. team, Parise, has not forgotten his experience in Vancouver. “To this day, we get reminded of it all the time and you get asked about what it felt like to come that close. So it never really goes away,” he said. “You never forget how it felt to lose that game.”