What this group has been able to accomplish is way beyond sport, and it is something that is never going to fade. —U.S. forward Gigi Marvin
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — The move is called “Oops, I did it again.”
And Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson practiced it more times than she could count in the wake of an excruciating overtime loss to Canada in the 2014 Olympics.
“I’ve worked on it a thousand times, and I have to give credit to our (assistant) coach Peter Elander,” said Lamoureux-Davidson, the American who stood with a flag draped over her shoulders that a senator gave her seven months before she and the U.S. women’s hockey team made history by ending Canada’s Olympic dominance with a 3-2 victory that was decided by a shootout. “I butchered it hundreds of times and shot pucks at tires because I’ve mishandled pucks thousands of times. It kind of worked out today.”
Indeed it did.
In a thrilling battle between the top two women’s teams in the world, Lamoureux-Davidson provided the game-winning shot, while a 20-year-old goalie named Maddie Rooney provided the game-winning save a moment later.
While Lamoureux-Davidson’s twin sister, Monique Lamoureux-Morando, knew the move her sister used against Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados would find the net, she was most impressed with Rooney’s clutch performance.
“She is 20 years old,” Monique Lamoureux-Morando said. “To go in and play so big like that, kudos to her because not everyone can take the pressure like that, and she took it like a champ.”
Rooney said she put her head down and just listened to the crowd as Lamoureux-Davidson skated toward the goal.
“I looked up and saw it going in,” she said. “Amazing.”
She said her calm came from the confidence her team had in her, with Lamoureux-Davidson stopping by for a fist bump before taking her game-winning shot.
“I have been told that it is important to stay calm,” she said. “I’m sure there have been times (when she’s nervous), but pressure is power.”
Team USA struck first on a goal from forward Hilary Knight during a first-period power play. Canada answered with two goals in the second period — one by forward Haley Irwin and one by the legendary Marie-Philip Poulin, whose overtime goal in 2014 meant silver for the Americans.
U.S. head coach Robb Stauber was asked about the rivalry with Canada that has made for some classic games, but none more important than the one that ended a 20-year Olympic drought for the Americans.
"We lost five games coming in before to them,” Stauber said. “All of them were by one goal and were tough games. It's a very heated rivalry and I expect that it will continue. We are very fortunate that we are on the other end of it, and that's when you have a lot of respect for your opponents.
"It's not just Canada. We respect the other countries. They are working hard, they have a goal, too. Our mindset is that we have to come to play every single minute of this tournament, and that's what it took. Every single minute and then some."
Of Rooney, Stauber said he didn’t say anything to her because, "If I had said something to her I would have gotten in her way. There was no way I would have touched that.
"I watched her for a long, long time. I say very little to her because she has ice in her veins. What does that do for (the) team, when your goalie never gets rattled, no matter what the circumstance is? Then she bounces back tall, after a goal or two. It sends a lot of confidence. It really is a classic example of a great goaltender."
The U.S. women’s team has been through some challenges, all of which they said have only made them stronger, more resolved and more cohesive. Last March, the team threatened to boycott the World Championships — which were being staged in Michigan — if USA Hockey didn’t pay them "a living wage." In an effort led by captain Meghan Duggan and Lamoureux-Davidson, the women said they deserved more than the Olympic year support the organization offered.
After 14 months of failed negotiations, the women, who only made $1,000 a month during the Olympic season, said they wouldn’t play until they received the support they deserve.
They went on to win the World Championship — beating Canada in the title game.
The women repeatedly said how difficult it was to make the decision to refuse to play without fair pay, but they felt the need to take a stand, just as U.S. soccer players did a year earlier.
Then, as the team trained in Florida with the Tampa Bay Lightning, players were faced with Hurricane Irma. The resort where they were staying became a designated shelter, and the players stayed there with hundreds of displaced people in what Duggan called “a giant slumber party.”
The team played games, signed autographs and gained a lot of new fans. After the storm, the U.S. team and the Lightning participated in a number of service projects, including delivering food to kids seeking care at the Boys & Girls Club.
Through the challenges, the women have relied on each other, and that was never more evident than when the U.S. flag was raised after the teams received their medals. The American women set their boxes on the ground and put their arms around each other as the Star Spangled Banner played.
“We are so resilient,” said 30-year-old forward Gigi Marvin. “There was no doubt in anyone’s minds. It was a matter of how and when and what an ending.”
She said that whether the players were one of the six who’d been on the team through two other Olympic losses or newcomers, they all were “focused.”
While Lamoureux-Davidson has practiced that shot — and several others with equally intriguing names — thousands of times, each player had envisioned this moment, for herself, her teammates and her country, countless times.
“I have done it so many times in my mind,” she said of helping Team USA beat Canada for Olympic gold, which they hadn’t accomplished since 1998. “We skate seven hours a day. It’s not a joke. We created these games and moments in our minds as 7-year-olds. I know my little cousins, when they wake up tomorrow, are going to be doing the same thing.”
Of the gift from the senator, Lamoureux-Davidson said, “I have had this flag wrapped and folded over the last seven months because I knew I would be proudly waving this flag,” she said. “There has been no doubt in our team of what we could accomplish.”
Marvin, who suffered through two Olympic losses before Thursday’s victory, said what the team earned this year was more than a bit of hardware.
“This is a snapshot of everything we have been through,” she said. “I could sit here and speak for hours on what my team is all about. What this group has been able to accomplish is way beyond sport, and it is something that is never going to fade.”