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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Americans wonder what might have been if puck did not hit post in dying minutes

Posted: 02/20/2014 4:29 PM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 02/20/2014 6:12 PM

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SOCHI, Russia - Wearing a Stars and Stripes bandana, Kelli Stack patiently answered reporters' questions and then walked away when her media duties were done.

She could not get two feet before the tears started.

With Canada down 2-1 and having pulled its goalie late in the Olympic women's hockey final Thursday, the U.S. forward had a long-range shot at the empty Canadian net.

It seemed destined to go in the gaping goal but instead rang off the right post with 1:26 remaining. Marie-Philip Poulin scored 31 seconds later and Canada, thanks to another Poulin score, went on to win in overtime.

Both sides were left to wonder what might have been in a thrilling showdown between the two heavyweights of the women's game.

Stack said when she let the shot go, she thought at first it might have a chance. Then, as it crossed the blue-line, she saw it was going to hit the post.

"But at the time we were still up a goal, so I didn't even think anything of it," she said. "I was thinking 'Oh that would have been nice if that went in, an inch to the right.'

"We were still up a goal so I'm like 'it's not that big of a deal.' "

Less than a minute later, the 26-year-old from Brooklyn Heights, Ohio, had a different thought.

"After they tied it up I thought to myself 'I've done that once before in my career in college and it's the worst feeling in the world.' "

The shot attempt came about after the official got in Canadian defenceman's Catherine Ward's way, allowing Stack to clear the puck from just inside the U.S. blue-line.

"I was a little bit frustrated with the referee," said Ward.

But when the puck hit the post, Ward told herself "it's meant to be. This is our chance, we have to keep going."

"Looking back on it, it seems like a little bit of karma because the linesman got in the way of our defenceman," said veteran Canadian forward Jayna Hefford. "That was a tough play and then it hits the post and it turns out like this, I think our group deserved this tonight."

"Oh my God, I think my heart stopped," added Canadian captain Caroline Ouellette. "Such an unlucky play. Our player got tangled with the referee. Thankfully there's a god, it hit the post and we were able to keep the puck alive and still have a one-goal deficit."

The Americans saw it a different way.

"That puck that goes down the ice, hits the post, it could have been over then again," said U.S. coach Katey Stone, denying that the moment was too big for her team. "So when those things happen in the game of hockey you start to wonder if it is your night."

Stack, meanwhile, tried to keep things in perspective.

"It will probably stay in my head for a little bit but I can't beat myself up over it because there were a number of other plays where we could have scored or we could have not let them score."

It didn't take long for social media users to latch on to the goal-post with the Twitter account @Sochi_Goalpost collecting more than 800 followers by Thursday evening. The profile states "You're welcome Canada. That wasn't an accident."

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