The 2018 Winter Olympics finished up this past weekend, and to be completely honest I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it. However, there was one thing that I made sure to watch when it was on: the women’s hockey tournament.
A lot of people—including myself—were hoping for another USA vs. Canada gold medal game, and boy did we get that and more. It was a later game, with an 11 p.m. scheduled puck drop last Wednesday night, but I made sure to stay up in the hopes of witnessing history.
The USA Women’s team had not won gold since the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Since then, Canada had a gold medal winning streak that began at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Canada was the obvious favorite going in, especially after the United States’ heartbreaking overtime loss in 2014 where they blew a 2-1 lead to their rivals. The media made sure to go back to that game repeatedly during the broadcast, wondering if the US could shake off the ghosts of Olympics past.
It sure didn’t look like they would through the first two periods. Even though they scored a late first period power play goal off the stick of Hilary Knight, the team as a whole looked out of sorts and sloppy.
Once the second period started, Canada wasted no time capitalizing and it quickly became 2-1. Many people thought that was the end, giving the US little chance to come back.
But they battled back and with a little over seven minutes left in regulation, Monique Lamoureux found herself on a breakaway and evened the score.
Then came the heart-pounding action of overtime. The United States did everything but score, controlling play for almost the entire period. Their goalie, 20-year-old Maddie Rooney, made sure the few scoring chances Canada had stayed out of the net.
I found myself way more invested than I thought I would be, jumping and yelling at my TV just like I do during Penguins games. I guess the thought of the United States finally winning gold got me excited!
Overtime couldn’t settle the score, so the game went into a shootout. Each team went back and forth, exchanging stops and goals before Canada took the lead. If Amanda Kessel didn’t score for the US, it was over.
But just like her brother Phil, she came up big when the pressure was on and scored. Then a few shooters later, Jocelyne Lamoureaux scored one of the nicest shootout goals I’ve seen to put the United States ahead.
It was then up to Rooney; one stop was all her and her team needed. One save later and the red, white and blue had captured their first gold medal in 20 years.
At this point it was almost 2:30 a.m., but I had to wait and see the medals be awarded. A good majority of the skaters for the United States experienced the heartbreak in Sochi, so it was great to see them finally exorcise those demons and come out on top.
The game was probably one of the best I’ve seen in a very long time. USA vs. Canada is a very intense rivalry, which makes for incredibly entertaining hockey. It will be interesting to see if we get to see this again in 2022.
But until then, congratulations to the US Women’s Hockey team. Your victory was well deserved and you all earned those gold medals. Enjoy it and enjoy being a part of history!