At long, long last, Team USA has reached the top of the women’s hockey world!
For the first time since the 1998 Nagano Olympics, the United States has won gold, as they defeated Canada 3-2 in a penalty shootout in PyeongChang. Cayla Barnes ‘22, Kali Flanagan ‘19, Megan Keller ‘19, Emily Pfalzer ‘15, and Haley Skarupa ‘16 will all take home gold medals as members of Team USA’s Olympic squad.
Team USA clearly started out with some early-game jitters, as the game started out pretty tight and disjointed. The Americans were handed three consecutive first period power plays, and it took all three for them to finally break through with a goal with just a minute remaining in the period thanks to a Hilary Knight deflection out front off a Sidney Morin shot from up top.
But Canada tied the game right back up just two minutes into the second period. Haley Irwin for Canada just barely got her stick on the puck in the air on a soft shot from a bad angle, and it disrupted the shot just enough to get it to trickle past USA goaltender Maddie Rooney.
Marie-Philip Poulin put the Canadians on top a few minutes later about seven minutes into the period. Meghan Agosta tooked advantage of a USA turnover with the puck hopping over Sidney Morin’s stick to send the rush back the other way, and Agosta sent the puck over to Poulin for a beautiful one timer past Rooney for the 2-1 Canada lead. A few unsuccessful power plays later, the Canadians would hold that lead into the third period.
But in the third period, there was a sense that the Americans weren’t quite done yet. A few stellar saves from Rooney and some great offensive chances from Team USA at least gave the Americans the feeling that they were still in it. Finally, with six minutes left to play in regulation, USA had their tying goal. A terrible change for Canada saw Monique Lamoureux come into the offensive zone all alone, and she buried her chance glove side high just inside the top corner to tie the game at 2-2.
One critical mistake by the Canadians kept the United States alive, and Team USA as able to force overtime. But 20 minutes of 4 on 4 OT wasn’t enough to settle it, despite an onslaught of American chances, so the gold medal was decided in a shootout.
The USA took an early lead, but Canada tied it up and even forced the USA to get a tying goal of their own before the end of round 5. But in the extra frame, it was Jocelyn Lamoureux scoring the game winner, and Maddie Rooney coming up with the gold-medal winning save, that brought gold back to the United States.
Congratulations to Team USA, and an extra loud and proud congratulations to Cayla, Megan, Kali, Haley, and Emily for making us proud and bringing home Olympic gold for BC!