USA vs. Canada
Since 1990, the International Ice Hockey Federation has held 14 world championships for women; the U.S. and Canada have faced off in the final game every time, with Canada winning 10 of them. Since 1998, when women's hockey was added to the Winter Olympics, the two teams have met for the gold medal in all four tournaments, with Canada prevailing three times. Not surprisingly, this North American overlording has bred a clash of the titans as rabid as it is respectful. The women's hockey world is self-contained; the top players are often friends and college teammates. Harvard, for instance, once featured Americans Angela Ruggiero (left in photo) and Julie Chu and Canadians Jennifer Botterill (right) and Sarah Vaillancourt. So there is some comfort in the expected. "It always comes down to one game against the U.S.," says Canadian star Hayley Wickenheiser. "It's what we wait for."