The matchup most expected when the women's hockey tournament at the 2014 Sochi Olympics started is the one that will take place Thursday when the United States and Canada play for the gold medal (Noon ET, NBC, CBC).
It's a white-hot rivalry that has seen the kind of physical play and anger that wouldn't be out of place in a Stanley Cup Playoff game. The teams have met in the finals of all 16 IIHF Women's World Championships. Canada won the first nine, but the United States has taken five of the past seven tournaments. They've also played for the gold medal three times in the four Olympics that have featured women's hockey; the U.S. won the first tournament in 1998 but Canada has won the past three.
"I think intense is probably a better word than hate because we all do respect one another at the end of the day," U.S. forward Hilary Knight said. "They're at the top of their game and we're at the top of ours. It's a great battle of the border there. It's definitely a hot ticket."