It’s been 20 years for the reason that U.S. ladies’s hockey workforce beat Canada on the Winter Olympics — a streak of disappointments they broke on Thursday afternoon with a Three-2 victory after a dramatic penalty shootout.
The gold medal recreation, in Gangneung, South Korea, (which aired early Thursday morning stateside) was the most recent installment within the recurring rivalry for first place between America and its northern neighbor.
Since ladies’s ice hockey was launched on the Olympics in 1998, the 2 groups have performed one another for the gold in 5 of these six Video games, developing quick in all however the first, together with back-to-back losses in 2010 and 2014.
The 2018 win got here all the way down to the wire after a late-game aim by the U.S. despatched them into time beyond regulation after which — after a scoreless interval — right into a shootout.
On the Video games 4 years in the past, in Sochi, Russia, the U.S. ladies misplaced Three-2 to Canada in time beyond regulation. That disappointment, the gamers mentioned later, was changed into gasoline.
“The devastation that we felt in Sochi after that closing, it solely constructed us up these previous 4 years,” workforce captain Meghan Duggan informed PEOPLE within the fall, previous to heading to Korea.
“It’s no secret that we got here up in need of our final aim,” Duggan mentioned then. “Whereas it was each unimaginable expertise and actually proud to be there, I feel we mentioned to lots of people, ‘We don’t prepare that arduous for second place.’ And that’s simply our mentality — it’s gold or bust going into this one for us. We’re excited, we’re ready. That is the group and it’s going to be an unimaginable journey.”
Chatting with the press earlier this week because the hockey match continued, U.S. goalie Maddie Rooney mentioned the dream was “to observe up the 1998 Olympic workforce.”
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“They’ve been our leaders and our nice position fashions for us,” Rooney mentioned, “and it’d imply all the pieces for us.”
After they beat Finland 5-Zero to advance to the gold medal spherical, ahead Hilary Knight mentioned the workforce was “clicking.”
“We’re buzzing,” she mentioned earlier this week. “It wasn’t only one line that was going tonight, [it was] all 4. That’s large. It’s actually uncommon in a sport like that.”
A win on the Olympics this yr caps one of many workforce’s most distinguished years to-date. Final March, they made headlines once they threatened to drag out of the IIHF World Championship until they obtained honest wages and assist from USA Hockey.
Knight informed PEOPLE within the fall that the stance was essential, calling it a “trigger that’s larger than ourselves.”
Ultimately, the workforce and the group negotiated a four-year deal that elevated their monetary assist. The “large equitable assist battle … spoke volumes of the character that we had within the room,” Knight mentioned.
Duggan echoed that: “I feel as highly effective feminine athletes it was necessary to us at that time to actually make the stand that we did.”
Flash-forward practically 12 months and, as her workforce seemed towards their Olympic rematch with Canada, Knight mentioned she was nonetheless taking all of it in.
“I maintain form of pinching myself,” she mentioned. “I imply, that is my third time going to a gold-medal recreation, lots of our third instances. I imply, that’s a dream come true. It’s an enormous alternative to symbolize our nation the best way that we’ve, I actually hope we get a tangible success on the finish of this journey.”
The 2018 Winter Olympics are airing stay on NBC. To study extra, go to teamusa.org.
• With CHAR ADAMS