By the Blouin News Sports staff

U.S. and Canada renew storied rivalry at Winter Olympics

by in Olympics.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The United States and Canada are home to the best hockey teams in the world. In the 2014 Winter Olympics, the two countries have proven that they are, in fact, on top of the game for both the men and women’s sides.

VISUAL CONTEXT: TOTAL MEDALS BY COUNTRY – WINTER OLYMPICS 

ESPN

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On the men’s side, the two won’t have the chance to face each other in the finals, but a semifinal matchup Friday should be as exciting a match the tournament can offer. The winner of the U.S. vs. Canada match will play Saturday in the finals against the winner of Sweden vs. Finland. The Canadian men have won two of the last three gold medals at the Winter Olympics and are the most successful country in the history of the event at the Winter Olympics. Sweden won in 2006 in Italy, sandwiched between Canadian victories in 2002 and 2010. The U.S. men last won in 1980 in Lake Placid, beating four-peat champions from the then Soviet Union, in front of their home crowd.

The women from the United States were a minute away from taking back the gold medal from Canada in the final match today. Canada scored two goals late in the third period to tie the U.S., and then won in overtime winning 3-2 in dramatic fashion. The U.S. women last won in 1998 in the inaugural tournament for the Women’s side in Nagano, Japan, beating their rivals 7-4. Since then, Canada has won in U.S. territory in Salt Lake City, in Turin, Italy, at home in Vancouver in 2010, and now in Sochi. The U.S. women have been tormented over the years by the Canadian women, adding fuel to this already bitter rivalry.

The U.S. came into Sochi as the underdogs to Canada in hockey, having not won gold for either the men or women’s side since the millennium changed. But they still have a chance to pick up gold with the men’s team.

Also at stake is the total medal count. The U.S. is atop the tables total medals with 25 while Canada trails in fifth place with 20. However, the two are only separated by one gold medal with the U.S. at eight and Canada with seven. The results from the men’s hockey matches will have a major impact on who finishes 2014 with more gold medals.