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Shootout win ends U.S. women’s hockey Olympic gold drought, dashes Canada’s drive for five

By Kristi Patton on February 23, 2018

Canada forward Melodie Daoust (15) fights for position with United States defenceman Megan Keller (5) during the women’s ice hockey final between Canada and USA at PyeongChang 2018 at Gangneung Hockey Centre on Feb. 22, 2018. (Vincent Ethier/COC)

Either way it finished, it was going to be a storybook ending for one team and devastating for the other with a gold medal on the line at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

Canada women’s hockey team was attempting a Winter Olympics record-breaking five gold medals in a row. The U.S. was looking to break a 20-year gold medal drought.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher and it is going to be a lot of fun,” said two-time U.S. silver medallist Hilary Knight before the two teams faced off.

Sixty minutes wasn’t enough to solve it. Neither was 80. Instead it came down to a shootout and then into extra shooters. But at the end it was a move by U.S. forward Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson who feigned a wrist shot, pulled the puck left then right and millimetres past the glove of sprawled out Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados’ (Edmonton, Alta./Hockey Canada) that gave them a 3-2 win and their first gold medal at the Olympics since women’s hockey was first introduced into the Games in 1998.

“Right now, it’s really tough, obviously. When you play in the final, you want to win. It was a good game; both teams gave their all. It’s sad to lose in a shootout,” said Canada’s captain Marie-Philip Poulin (Beauceville, Que./Montreal, CWHL) of heading home with a silver medal. 

She remarked that the gold medal nail biter put the female game on display for the excitement it brings to fans. 

“Every four years we elevate the way we play; obviously, for women’s hockey, it’s great. We played great. It shows how much women’s hockey is growing.”

 

It was a tumultuous year for the U.S. squad who almost boycotted the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship as they fought USA Hockey for equality in pay and youth development opportunities for the future generations. They had only been receiving a stipend of $1,000 a month from USA Hockey and that only came during the six months they were centralized to train for the Olympics. The other three and half years they were expected to train and play on what the players said was “virtually nothing.” In the days leading up to the championship, held on U.S. soil, a deal was struck. The specifics were never revealed, but players said it was on par with what the men’s team receives.

The U.S. went on the win the world championship, their fourth in a row over Canada. However, in the six month lead up to the Olympics they lost seven out of 10 matches against their rival, including five in a row in an exhibition series.

Finally the time came to meet on the Olympic stage in the preliminary round. Again, Canada came out on top winning 2-1. Knight had not contributed much offensively (one goal) during the tournament, neither had the other usual suspects for the U.S. That would change in the gold medal game. 

Knight put the U.S. on the board first, tipping a shot in front of the net past Szabados on the powerplay. Early in the second period Hayley Irwin (Thunder Bay, Ont./Calgary, CWHL) evened things up as teammate Blayre Turnbull chipped a pass over a laid out U.S. defenceman. The puck sailed to the front of the net where Irwin batted it out of the air and past the U.S. goalie Maddie Rooney. With just under seven minutes left, Marie-Philip Poulin gave Canada the 2-1 lead. The U.S. tied it up with 13:39 left in the third period with a goal from Monique Lamoureux-Morando. That score would stick through the four-on-four overtime period sending them to a shootout.

Melodie Daoust, who was deservedly named the tournament most valuable player for her team-leading seven points, tucked in the go-ahead goal dekeing out Rooney. Amanda Kessel answered for the U.S. firing a shot past the glove side of Szabados.

While her twin sister tied the game, it was Lamoureux-Davidson that would get the game-winner in the shootout. 

“This is a dream come true. I remember jumping up and down on the couch in ’98 and I wanted to be just like them and to be able to do it 20 years later, it is surreal,” said U.S. veteran Knight after the win.

Szabados was named the Top Goaltender, and later sent out a message on social media showing her on crutches and with a walking boot. She thanked her teammates and the Canadian staff for pushing her through an injury. She had only played three full games before the Olympics.

“It’s hard (to lose in the shootout). There are not a lot of words to describe how you feel, but you know it was a great game of hockey,” said Canadian head coach Laura Schuler (Scarborough, Ont.). “That was what we expected — back-and-forth hockey. It was a battle until the end. It’s always been back-and-forth hockey for the past 20 years. It was obviously a great game, but not the outcome we wanted.”

Daoust and defenceman Laura Fortino (Hamilton, Ont./Markham, CWHL) also earned places on the media all-star team. Lamoureux-Davidson also was named to the all-star team. 

2018 PyeongChang Olympics notes:

The U.S. will keep their status as the number one team in the world after the IIHF released the rankings following their gold medal win.

Canada remains in second place and Finland maintains third with their bronze medal 3-2 win over the Olympic Athletes of Russia, who competed for a medal for the first time. Japan moved up the rankings into eight spot after their historic Olympics run, including defeating Sweden in the classification round.

At the women’s ice hockey press conference, IIHF president Rene Fasel said they are planning to go to the IOC to discuss the possibility of keeping the Unified Korean women’s hockey team together for future tournaments. It was also learned that the organizers of the Beijing 2022 Games have asked to add two more teams in the women’s competition and that the next IIHF Women’s World Championship be played with 10 teams as well. It is expected decisions on those moves will be decided in the spring.

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By Kristi Patton| February 23, 2018
Categories:  Female|Events

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