As Canada and the United States get ready for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, tensions mounted during an exhibition game on October 14 in Burlington, Vermont. While the eternal rivalry between these two storied hockey powers continued, a rare scuffle between both sides only added to the intensity.
With Jocelyne Lamoureux skating down the ice, she was unable to bury the puck into the Canadian net. She would run into Canada’s Courtney Birchard where a shoving match ensued. Suddenly, the two fell to the ice with Birchard attempting a headlock on her fallen competitor. Monique Lamoureux-Kolls and Kelli Stack came to the aid of Lamoureux, only to have Canada’s Tessa Bonhomme and Hayley Wickenheisher quickly come to Birchard’s defense. From there, it was a sea of US and Canadian jerseys as a scrum ensued near the Canadian net.
Suddenly, it was not just Birchard and Lamoureux engaging in a physical confrontation. Anne Schleper of the US and 17-year veteran Jayna Hefford were in a shoving match. As the referees tried to bring order to a chaotic situation, Jocelyne Lamoureux tried to punch Birchard.
This was followed by Tessa Bonhomme and Kelli Stack getting up from the ice to start putting their fingers into each other’s facemasks, providing fans with the impression that it was a mixed martial arts match and not a hockey exhibition. While Wickenheiser separated the two, Megan Bozek of the US started shoving Bonhomme. Wickenheiser would come to her defense, only to get shoved by Bozek as well.
Although Canada prevailed by a 3-2 tally, four players were given roughing majors. For fans that are concerned about the possibility of violence contaminating the women’s game, this is just a rare bump on the road to respectability.
The pressure to win is immense for both countries as it constitutes one of the most heated rivalries in all of sport. Combined with the fact that Canadian and US players are part of Centralization Camps that last over four months, in which they are also away from their families, it only adds to the underlying stress of winning gold. For hockey purists, this just needs to be taken with a grain of salt and understood that this was an outpouring of frustration rather than anger or malicious intent.