Canada had just completed one of the most stunning comebacks in the country’s long hockey history, and the gravity of the moment wasn’t lost on Natalie Spooner.
Down 2-0 with less than four minutes remaining in regulation, Brianne Jenner brought Canada within one on a fluky goal. A few minutes and a heart-stopping goal post later, Marie-Philip Poulin sent the game to overtime.
There’s been plenty of drama between Canada and the United States in 20 years of women’s Olympic hockey, but nothing like this.
Spooner was only 23 at the time and playing in her first Olympics, so you can imagine the nerves she was feeling. Fortunately she had a veteran to lean on like Hayley Wickenheiser, a five-time Olympian and the greatest women’s player of all time.
“Natalie Spooner leaned over to me and said, ‘Wick, I think I’m going to puke,'” said Wickenheiser. “I quickly turned and said, ‘Well there’s the garbage can right there because we gotta get out on the ice in about 30 seconds so do it now.”
Fortunately Spooner was able to hold her lunch, and the rest is history. Poulin scored her second of the game midway through overtime to send Canada to its fourth straight Olympic gold.
With Wickenheiser now enjoying her time in retirement, Canada’s rookies can now lean on an experienced player like Spooner to help them battle the butterflies. Or at least find the nearest trash can.
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