The United States Women’s Hockey Team partied like it was 1998 in the middle of the night in the US as they defeated Canada 3-2 in a shootout to break a 2-2 tie and win the Gold Medal. It’s the first US gold medal since the inaugural women’s hockey tournament at the Olympics in 1998, and it was won by a large group of Minnesota GOLDen Gophers. Five Gopher Women’s Hockey alums—Dani Camaranesi, Hannah Brandt, Amanda Kessel, Lee Stecklein, and Gigi Marvin, along with current Gopher senior Kelly Pannek will be bringing home the gold.
Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux who both had huge goals for the US spend a year at Minnesota before transferring home to North Dakota for their final three seasons. And the US Head Coach Robb Stauber and assistant coach Brett Strot are both Gopher Men’s Hockey alums.
The US struck first at the end of the first period. On their third power play of the period and with just 26 seconds left in the first Hillary Knight tipped in a blast from the point to put the Red, White and Blue up by a goal.
Everyone watching knew Canada would not sit idlely back to start the second period and they proved that. Hailey Irwin would tie the game up just two minutes into the second period on a tip past US goalie Maddie Rooney, and then less than five minutes later Canadian captain and US killer Marie-Phillip Poulin snapped a shot over Rooney’s shoulder to give the Canadians a 2-1 lead. The US tried valiantly, but could not find another goal in the period and would head to the locker room down a goal going into the third.
The third period was a back and forth affair with both teams having great opportunities. The period was marred with a bit of controversy when Poulin absolutely leveled the US’s Brianna Decker in front of the Canadian net with a thunderous check that made full contact to her head. What should have been a five minute major penalty and a disqualification went uncalled to the ire of the US bench and fans.
But the Americans would not be deterred. With 6:21 to play in regulation Kelly Pannek found Monique Lamoureux behind the Canadian defense and threaded a perfect pass to spring her in on a breakaway. Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados could not stop her top corner shot, and the game was tied at 2.
Both teams would have great chances at the end of the third period but could not convert and the game headed to overtime.
In the extra twenty minute 4x4 session, the US dominated for the most part. The Americans had tons of opportunities including a Pannek rip off of the post that was sure to send Randy Skarda nightmare flashbacks through the older Gopher fans who were watching—oh yeah and her head coach who was in the opposing goal that night in 1989 in St. Paul.
Canada had their shot when Megan Keller was called for a penalty with just 1:35 left in overtime. Canada put a huge flurry of shots on Rooney, but the 20 year old from Andover, Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth stood tall and kept the puck out of the net to send the game to a shootout to determine who would win gold.
The shootout was an all maroon and gold affair. Gigi Marvin would score the first goal for the US, and Amanda Kessel would add the second. Rooney also allowed two goals in the first five shots, and just like the game the shootout would go to extra time.
Stauber sent out Joceylene Lamoureux to take the US shot, and she unleashed something she had been working on for the last four years and had nicknamed “Oops I did it Again”
Whether that name sticks, or the other name that circulated after the game The “Star Spangled Dangle” prevails...it will be a shot that goes down in US Hockey lore like those of Baker and Eruzione. Rooney would stop Meghan Agosta seconds later and the US had won the gold.
This group of Gophers would win their medal 38 years TO THE DAY that another group of nine rag tag Gophers with a Gopher alum as a head coach would shock the word in Lake Placid. While this win was not nearly the upset that the 1980 win was, it never less got a huge monkey of the back of the US Women and finally got the US over the hump.
Head coach Robb Stauber had received a ton of criticism for how he had handled the US squad from many “hockey people” in the last few months. On twitter in the second and early in the third period the pitchforks were already out to blame Stauber for the inevitable loss. Yet an hour later he joins only Ben Smith as the two coaches to lead the US Women to a gold medal. His style may have been unorthodox, but it got the job done. He and the US will return home with gold around their necks.
Congrats to the five Gopher alums, the current Gopher, the two former Gophers for a year, and the two former Gopher men’s players on the coaching staff. This win will go down in US Olympic history forever. The Gophers really were...GOLDEN!