It didn’t matter that the US Women’s hockey team had to wait for an overtime period and a shootout to win the gold medal against Canada.
That small amount of time was nothing compared to the 20 years the squad has had to endure to capture its second gold medal in the sport.
The team’s 3-2 victory, seized in a six-round shootout, was one of the most thrilling American moments on ice since the men’s 1980 Miracle on Ice, which coincidently was 38 years to the day of the women’s victory.
“We’re standing here on the world stage, representing our country, waving our flags,” Meghan Duggan said. “I am so proud to be American. That was a great moment listing to the national anthem.”
Learned From Loss
It is one of the most intense rivalries in sports, and even though players for both teams play on the same Wisconsin college squad, there is no fraternization when the two countries meet.
“During the year, especially this year, you aren’t going to be friends with anyone on that team,” Amanda Kessel told USA Today.
That was evident in the preliminary game the two had a week earlier. It was a chippie affair with scrums around the net common. The Canadians pulled off the upset, 2-1 and it looked like if the US reached the gold medal game it was going to be a repeat of the last four Olympics.
“Our opponent is never the other team we’re facing,” said Gigi Marvin. “It’s always the doubt. I think the biggest thing is just the doubt and the fear.”
Two Decades of Frustration Erased
The US was the favorite to win the gold medal at a -120, while the Canadians were even money. They did win the inaugural women’s hockey Olympic tournament, but then the neighbors to the north put a stranglehold on it for the next 20 years.
This despite the US team winning seven of the last nine World Championships. They just couldn’t seem to do it at the Winter Games. They were favored in the gold medal game at -139, while Canada was a +110.
It looked like an upset was brewing when Canada came back and scored two goals to take the lead, 2-1. It was reminiscent of the 2014 Olympics when the team coughed up a 2-0 lead and lost the gold in overtime, 3-2.
This time was different. Monique Lamoureux-Morando converted a breakaway at 6:21 remaining in the third period to force overtime. The extra period went scoreless and went to a shootout.
In the shootout Marvin and Kessel scored and after five rounds it was tied. The sudden death lasted one round as Lamoureux-Morando pulled off a deke that would have fooled most NHL goalies. She then slid the puck past a sprawling Shannon Szabados.
It wasn’t over, though. The squad’s 20-year-old goalie Maddie Rooney had to stop Canada’s Meghan Agosta. She did and the team spilled over the bench and onto the ice in celebration.
“Before she came down, I just looked over at the bench and saw my teammates pointing at me,” Rooney said. “Just one more. To have their support made it a whole lot easier. I just reacted to her and then everything went into a blur.”