Players reflect the past and future of the USA, Canada rivalry

“It’s pretty exciting and it just keeps getting better.”

VANCOUVER, B.C - Rivalries are often built through the grind of playoff hockey. Teams are competing against each other to move on and win a championship. At the national team level, the rivalry between Hockey Canada and USA Hockey is a little different.

The intensity is still there and it ramps up every four years with the culmination of the winter Olympics. During those three years between Olympic cycles, players are still representing their country, but there’s no Olympic gold medal up for grabs.

The rivalry dates back decades and the animosity still exists between both teams.

“It started before I was on the team,” Marie-Philip Poulin told reporters in Vancouver. “When I watched in 2002, I could feel it from my TV, the rivalry was there. It’s pretty exciting and it just keeps getting better.”

When you put on that Canadian or American jersey you want to do everything in your being to be able to come away with a win over your biggest rival. There’s an extra gut punch when you come up short and your nemesis is skating around the rink victorious.

“It’s definitely one of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports,” Sarah Nurse explained. “I think when you look at the two teams, there’s a lot of history in the rivalry and we always want to beat each other. It’s a game that we all get up for and really want to play.”

Fans from both countries have experienced joy and tremendous disappointment. The Canada vs U.S. rivalry isn’t just on the ice, the supporters feel it as well. They live through all the big highs, and the extreme lows.

Why are games so intense?

“I think because the rivalry goes back 30 years,” Lauriane Rougeau explained. “It’s not just us right now, it’s the legacy of the people in front of us that came before us. We just want to live up to that legacy, that rivalry. You know that these are the games we want to play. They’re the most intense and for us, we just want beat them every time.”

The compete level is turned up to maximum when both teams hit the ice. Whenever there’s a scrum, a battle in the corner, or some sneaky stick-work. There’s often a pair of feisty USA Hockey forwards who seem to relish the opportunity to mix it up.

“I would say we’re trying not to be at the forefront anymore,” Monique Lamoureux-Morando revealed. ”I know in the past we’ve been in the middle of it. It’s usually an exhibition game, you’re not playing for anything, but everybody knows that when you’re playing against Canada there’s always something on the line. Anybody that watches our teams play, knows there’s no body contact. There’s a lot of contact along the boards, there’s checking for some of it.”

What’s it like reaching for a loose puck, knowing that, not one, but two highly competitive Lamoureux’s are on the ice, ready to knock you off stride?

“They’re really competitive twins,” Laura Stacey admitted. “I think they do ignite a little bit of fire under us for sure. That makes the game fun and it makes that rivalry stronger. It makes us want it more, and compete more. It is fun to get physical sometimes and battle out there. I think the crowd loves it, and we love it. It really makes the game, and they are a part of it as well. We like to play with grit, and be the more physical team. It’s fun when that kinda of ignites.”

The Lamoureux twins aren’t just about mixing it up, and driving their opponents crazy. Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson are always a threat to put the puck in the net, or dish out a seamless pass to an open teammate.

They can also deliver the sickest of dekes in the highest pressure situations.

Inside the USA Hockey locker room, the Lamoureux’s are thought of big game, clutch players. While Canadian fans might think of them as two super pests. USA Hockey loves having such accomplished and talented athletes, who will do anything to win.

“When you think of a big moment,” Kendall Coyne Schofield began, “Big play, or a play that changes the momentum of a game. You think of the Lamoureux’s being in that situation. That’s how I would identify them as players.”

As the Rivalry Series continues, Hockey Canada and USA Hockey are proof that you don’t need playoff hockey to build a forever rivalry. Players on both sides have grown up hearing about the intense battles. That’s why it’s extremely special for every one of those players to be a part of such a great rivalry.

How to Watch: Games 3-5 of the Rivalry Series