U.S. Women’s Hockey Team End Canada’s Dominance and Win Gold at Winter Olympics

The United States celebrating after it beat Canada, 3-2, in a shootout to win the gold medal. “This is a very classic example of how hard it should be,” said Robb Stauber, the American coach.
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

It happens every four years. The United States and Canada play for Olympic gold in women’s hockey, and the game usually goes down to the wire.

This one did that and more. Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored the game-winning goal in a shootout on Thursday to give the United States a 3-2 victory against Canada, the four-time defending Olympic champion.

Down a goal with seven minutes to play, the United States got an equalizer from Lamoureux-Davidson’s sister, Monique Lamoureux-Morando, and matched Canada through overtime, even staving off a power play through the last 95 seconds.

Then it was on to a shootout, which also went into overtime, after both teams netted two of their first five chances. In the first extra round, Lamoureux-Davidson scored first against Canada goaltender Shannon Szabados. A minute later, United States goaltender Maddie Rooney stopped a shot by Meghan Agosta of Canada to give the American women their first gold medal since 1998, when women’s hockey made its debut as an Olympic sport.

Before the shot, Rooney said, she looked over at the bench and saw her teammates indicating she needed just one more save, against Agosta.

“To have their support made it a whole lot easier,” said Rooney, 20, who is at her first Olympics. “I just reacted to her, and then everything kind of went into a blur.”

Four years ago at the Sochi Games, Canada beat the United States in overtime, 3-2, to win gold. The scene at the end of these Olympic tournaments has almost always been the same: the Canadian women throwing sticks and gloves across the ice in celebration, while their American opponents wipe away tears, beginning the four-year countdown until their next shot at the sport’s biggest prize.

But their roles were reversed this time as Rooney turned Agosta away, and American sticks and gloves went airborne.

The win was especially poignant for this group of American women. A year ago, they battled U.S.A. Hockey for better pay and work conditions, including by threatening to boycott a world championship tournament. Only a last-minute settlement that included hefty pay raises got them back onto the ice. The Lamoureux sisters were two of the leaders of that fight.

This year’s gold medal game had it all — lead changes, slick passing, game-saving goaltending, a healthy dose of contact and a raucous crowd that traded dueling chants of “Canada” and “U.S.A.” all afternoon.

“This is a very classic example of how hard it should be,” Robb Stauber, the American women’s coach, said.

The Canadian women played a classic Canadian-style game, using their skill and physicality to bully the Americans around the ice, raising their elbows and even a fist or two.

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SOURCE: New York Times, Matthew Futterman