The 2018 U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team accomplished what no team of American women have done for 20 years: win a gold medal.
In an all-time game late Wednesday night, the U.S. and Canada fought valiantly from the moment the puck was dropped. The U.S. scored first, but Canada took over in the second period and scored two goals, taking the lead. Down by one with less than 10 minutes to play, the U.S. tied things up when forward Monique Lamoureux-Morando scored on a breakaway.
With the score still tied at the end of regulation, the teams had to play a 20-minute four-on-four overtime period. Despite the frantic pace and lots of scoring chances, neither team was able to score in the extra period and the game went to a shootout.
Both goalies came up big and the shootout was tied one-one heading into the fourth round. Canada then scored and put the pressure on the U.S. to equalize. However, Amanda Kessel was able to immediately put one home and kept the shootout going.
After 20-year-old U.S. goalie Maddie Rooney stopped another shot, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson pulled off a ridiculous shot, dubbed the “oops, I did it again” move, and slid the puck past the Canadian goalie to put the U.S. ahead.
Rooney now had the chance to deliver the U.S. to victory with Canada needing to score. Facing down Canadian forward Meghan Agosta, she made the decisive stop and was mobbed by her teammates as they finally won gold.
The win is arguably the country’s greatest accomplishment in hockey since the 1980 men’s “Miracle on Ice” team shocked the Soviet Union in Lake Placid and went on to win gold. The 1998 women’s team victory over Canada, in the inaugural Olympics for women’s hockey, was also special, but this year’s win seems more meaningful.
Before Wednesday night, the U.S. had lost to Canada in the gold medal game three times (and twice in a row). Some of the players on this year’s team have tried to beat Canada in the Olympics again and again, only to come up just short each time.
It would have been devastating if the U.S. had lost again this year and watched Canada accept their fifth gold medal in a row, but this team refused to let it happen.
The greatest thing about the game — and the U.S. win — was that it was the purest form of hockey: a battle fueled by raw competitiveness, passion, and love for the game. The players were only playing for their teammates and their country, not money or sponsors.
While women’s hockey does not get nearly as much attention as men’s does, the U.S.-Canada rivalry is one of the best in all of sports. Many players on both teams train and prepare for this exact match-up, because there aren’t many women’s professional hockey teams and no other country is as good as these two.
The game also reaffirmed that women’s hockey is a more skill-based and team-oriented game than men’s. There is no checking, but it is more aesthetically pleasing. Instead of dumping the puck into the zone and crashing into defenders, like the men do, the women play a possession-based passing game that is all but extinct in the modern-era of the NHL.
Overall, the game was a truly special event to witness, as the U.S. women showed the resilience and determination of true gold medalists. Ultimately, because of that effort, the thrilling matchup will go down in Olympic history forever.