PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – The curse is broken. The gold is finally back in America.
Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored the winning goal in a shootout to complete an inspired and thrilling comeback and give Team USA its first Olympic championship in 20 years.
The game was nearly a mirror image of four years ago, when the Canadians tied the game at 2 late in the third period and then won it in overtime. That loss in Sochi crushed the Americans, and they made it an obsession to get revenge here in South Korea.
For most of the third period, it looked like the long wait would go on. Only a breakaway goal by Monique Lamoureux-Morando with 6:21 to play gave the U.S. team new life.
Then came the shootout winner that will be remembered in the U.S. for years. After the teams each scored two goals in the first five rounds of the shootout, Lamoureux-Davidson put the U.S. ahead and goalie Maddie Rooney stopped Meghan Agosta to seal the victory.
The U.S. took the lead early in the game with a tipped goal by Hilary Knight, but Canada’s Haley Irwin scored a strange goal early in the second by lobbing it at the net and finding the back of the cage behind Rooney. Then the Americans’ old nemesis, Marie Philip-Poulin, snuck into the U.S. zone behind the play and struck from the left circle to make it 2-1.
The Team USA offense was anemic for a while, as five power plays resulted in only one goal and not many quality chances. But the Americans found their legs just as the Canadians seemed to lose a step, and the last burst of energy yielded the equalizer and several good chances as regulation time ran out.
In the past year, the women’s team risked their careers in the pursuit of equal pay and treatment by threatening a strike before world championships. They then rode out Hurricane Irma while training for the Olympics in Florida. Both experiences made them “unbreakable,” in the words of Brianna Decker.
Canada couldn’t break them either. Now they are gold medalists, at last!