The United States women’s hockey team ended Canada’s gold medal streak in dramatic fashion on Friday afternoon, defeating their archrivals in a shootout to capture their first Olympic title since 1998.
USA’s Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored the go-ahead goal in the shootout, the first in Olympic women’s hockey history, after the teams played to a 2-2 stalemate after regulation and overtime, setting the stage for American goaltender Maddie Rooney’s save of Meghan Agosta to clinch the gold before a rollicking crowd at the Gangneung Hockey Centre.
“It is everything for our country,” American coach Robb Stauber said afterward. “I can’t tell you how happy I am for our players. We love them, it is unreal. I am just so thankful for the outcome. It was a thrilling final, it was unreal.”
American forward Hilary Knight opened the scoring in the dying seconds of the first period, redirecting a shot by Sidney Morin past Canadian goaltender Shannon Szabados.
But Canada’s Haley Irwin leveled early in the second frame by deflecting a pass from Blayne Turnbull past Rooney. Five minutes later Marie-Philip Poulin opened a 2-1 lead for the Canadians with a one-timer.
That score held until late in the third period. With time running out on USA’s gold medal hopes, Monique Lamoureux-Morando tied the game on a breakaway opportunity created by Kelly Pannek.
After a scoreless overtime period, both goaltenders stood tall in stopping the first three shots apiece. In the first extra round Lamoureux-Davidson broke through, faking Szabados out of position and depositing the puck into the back of the net.
That set the stage for Rooney, the Olympic debutante who made 29 saves over 80 minutes of regulation and overtime, whose save of Agosta’s shot sealed a long-awaited victory for the United States over their northern neighbors.
“I can’t put it into words,” American defenseman Kacey Bellamy said. “This whole year is for everyone that came before us. This is for [former USA team captain] Julie Chu and for all our families at home, the schools that we went to, everyone supporting us. It is a feeling I have never experienced.”
The United States outshot Canada by a 42-31 margin.
“Upset, disappointed,” Turnbull said. “We did not come here for a silver medal and everyone can imagine what losing feels like. It is not a great feeling at all.” She added: “That is how it works, but in my honest opinion a game like that should never be decided by a shootout.”
Canada had won four straight Olympic golds, three times beating the United States in the final including twice in overtime. Their lone failure to win the title came when women’s hockey debuted at the 1998 Nagano Games, when they fell to the Americans in the gold medal match.
“It is going to be part of our legacy,” said Knight, a three-time Olympian and USA team captain. “The things that we have gone through as a team on and off the ice, the characters, the group of women we have in the room, it’s quite incredible.
“A little bittersweet right now because we won but this team will never really be together again in the same capacity. It has been an incredible journey.”