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Winter Olympics Sochi 2014: For Canada and the United States, the next two days will be a battle of wills

Every hero needs a arch-villain. For Canada and the United States, both have found this in each other.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

What was Batman without The Joker? George Bailey without old Mr. Potter? The Racoons without Cyril Sneer? It's okay if you don't know, as I'm here to tell you.


Every hero needs an arch-villian. Though it is in them to be great, heroes always rise to another level when they are up against a nemesis.

Tomorrow, Canada's Olympic women's hockey team will face-off against the favoured Americans with the gold medal up for the taking. Only a day after that, both nation's men's rosters will clash in a chance to play for a gold of their own.

Hero, meet arch-villian.

Long are the days where Canada called the Russians their number one rival. The game has changed much over the years and though Canada and the United States have always been the upper echelon of women's hockey, a new brooding antagonism has formed between the bordering North American countries in the men's game.

Over the past decade, USA Hockey has evolved by leaps and bounds, vaulting themselves into the conversation of the great hockey nations. While many Canadian hockey fans take their dominance at the sport for granted, our American counterparts have watched their boys scratch and claw, earning every accolade bestowed upon them while elbowing their way into hockey's elite.

And now, on hockey's grandest stage, we are once again treated to two contests in which the combatants have spent much of their professional careers building a strong distaste for one another.

On the women's side, this will be the second time Canada and the USA oppose each other. The first clash came in the Preliminary Round where Meghan Agosta powered Canada to a 3-2 victory giving them the top spot in Group A qualifying.

After losing four straight to the Americans in the Canada vs. USA series the Canucks finally broke the streak imposed by the Yanks. Coming into the gold medal game, Canada holds an advantage in experience with the United States owning a preeminence of speed and skill. The gold medal showdown will be akin to two locomotives travelling 120 MPH and smashing into each other. Only the moment of impact will be spread out to reverberate over sixty minutes of game play. Both nations know what's at stake and will bring their very best in competition to close out their Olympic Games.

On the men's side, not much has changed since these two teams met in the final at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The Americans have dominated this tournament with twenty goals in only four games, more than any other country competing. Canada, for their part, has struggled etching the scoresheet but have asserted themselves offensively, registering nearly forty shots more than the Americans in as many games. On Friday, these two prize fighters will to stand toe-to-toe in the middle of the ice sheet, trading blows for hockey's equivalent of twelve rounds until they reach exasperation. It's unfortunate one of these teams will have to compete for bronze, but alas this is the hand we as fans of the sport are dealt.

Every great hero has an arch-villian, this much is certain. And with that, animosity between fan bases will continue to ramp up over the next two days. Barbs and jabs will be planted. Feelings will be hurt. But as Bane so cleverly quipped before breaking Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, "let us not stand on ceremony".

At some point over the upcoming days, one of these great nations will break, be it in spirit or in body.

For the women, it will be a long four year wait at redemption for the loser, the taste of failure leaving a metallic taste on their tongues.

But for the men, this is likely the end of the road. As NHL will likely close the curtain on sending its most elite talent to compete internationally, we must all be sure to enjoy the next sixty rather than fretting the end result.

Savour defeat as you would victory. At least, that's what a hero would do.