Host City: Nagano, Japan
Venue(s): Aqua Wing Arena, Nagano; Big Hat, Nagano
Date Started: February 8, 1998
Date Finished: February 17, 1998
Format: Round-robin pool, followed by classification matches.
Women’s World Championships had been held since 1987. Canada had won every title, with the United States second at each tournament. Finland had finished 3rd in 1990, 1992, 1994, and 1997. There were six teams competing in Nagano in the inaugural women’s Olympic ice hockey event, China, Sweden, and Japan joining the three favorites. Canada was favored as it had not lost a game at the World Championships and had lost only once, to the United States, in seven international tournaments. But they were closely matched, as leading up to the Olympics, the two teams played each other 13 times, Canada winning 7 and the United States 6 times. In the round-robin pools, the USA met the Canadians in the final game, after they had both qualified. Canada led 4-1, but the Americans scored six unanswered goals to win 7-4. After the game, American player Sandra Whyte taunted Canada’s leading scorer, Danielle Goyette. When they met in the final game, bad-blood existed between the two teams. The Americans scored twice in the second period, to lead 2-0 at the final break. Canada scored one goal, but with less than a minute remaining, they pulled their goalie, and Whyte scored into an empty net to give the USA a 3-1 victory and the gold medal.