On Golden Ponds: Bitter Hockey Rivals U.S., Canada Vie for Gold

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Some may think the U.S.-Canada women's hockey gold-medal game to be played Thursday is an appetizer to get them through to Friday's main course when the men's teams face off in the semifinals.

But this -- this is no appetizer. As far as women's hockey goes, this is everything and ALL the things.  And it can be watched live at noon ET/9 a.m. PT on NBC and on nbcolympics.com.

This rivalry matches or beats any Olympic rivalry on the men's side, and probably beats any at the NHL level, as well.

Sure, it's cliche to say that you can "throw the stats out of the window," but it's true for this one. It doesn't matter who won X of the last Y games between the two teams. Heck, it doesn't even matter that Canada beat the U.S. 3-2 earlier in this same tournament. When these two teams take the ice, a random coin toss will be a better predictor of who will win than any expert analysis.

These are the two best teams in the sport, yet they are evenly matched. They have tremendous pride in not just winning, but pounding the snot out of their rival. And there is pure hatred shown toward the opposition.

Need proof?

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Here, just watch this from a tournament in December:

There shouldn't be any fisticuffs this time in Sochi, with the idea of keeping the Olympic spirit, yadda yadda yadda. But if the ref lets this one gets out of hand, watch out. Who knows what might happen.

The "blood" jerseys are ready, just in case.

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