After an absolute nail-biter of a match, which went to overtime and then a penalty shootout, the US has finally broken Canada’s stranglehold on women’s Olympic hockey.
Team USA won the shootout 3-2, with forward Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scoring the winning goal. The women in blue poured onto the ice after Canada’s Megan Agosta couldn’t reply, handing the Americans the gold.
It was an incredibly close match throughout, with Canada leading 2-1 well into the third period, only for Team USA’s Monique Lamoureux-Morando to pull it back, pushing the game into overtime.
Lamoureux-Morando told reporters after the game that she was “digging the new necklace.”
She said she had worked on the penalty shot a “thousand times” which won the match.
“I’ve done that thousands of times around tyres just set out on open ice,” she said. “It’s called ‘Oops, I did it again’ … I’ve butchered it a thousand times, ran into tyres, tripped over tyres. I’m just glad it worked out this time.”
The US women’s hockey team hadn’t won gold since the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, so tensions were even higher than usual against their regional rivals.
Canada has won every gold medal since then, and Thursday’s match was the third time the teams had met in an Olympic final.
USA’s Hannah Brandt spoke to reporters about the victory: “We wanted to win today and I know they did as well, but it feels pretty dang good to be on the other side of it.”
Ahead of the match, they had already played once in these Olympics. Canada won that preliminary round 2-1 despite being out shot by the Americans 45-23.
Undefeated, until now
Canada’s Melodie Daoust said the team’s loss was “painful.”
“I don’t think we have any regrets but this medal really hurts,” she said. “I’m really sad for our team.”
Many of the teammates, including its coach — Laura Schuler — said it was difficult to see the game decided by a shootout.
“It was such a hard-fought game,” Schuler told reporters. “You never want to see it go to a shootout but it did.”
“It is hard. You feel as though you have let your country down, but you look at it in a bigger picture.”
Team USA’s win comes after their victory off the ice. After a fight for better pay they scored a contract that rivals that of the men’s national team.
Most of the women on the team said they had to work one or two other jobs in addition to training and competing because they were making so little from being on the national team.
Hilary Knight from Team USA said a movie should be made about team, and its gold medal shootout.
“We had all the drama and everything,” she said. “This is an outstanding team. I think I’m sort of bittersweet right now that the journey is over just because these women are incredible … It’s a dream come true.”
It was a hard won victory, with the athletes boycotting the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship and USA Hockey threatening to bring in scabs.
They drew support from players’ associations for the NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB and the NHL, and finally, in March 2017, reached an agreement for parity with the men’s team, though the exact details have not been released.