The U.S. women's hockey team finally returned to the top of the Olympic podium with a dramatic, heart-stopping display of hockey against rival Canada. The USA won in a nail-biting shootout -- 20 years after they last won gold in 1998 when women's hockey made its debut as an Olympic sport.
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The U.S. broke Canada's streak of four straight Olympic gold medals in women's hockey.
The U.S. players celebrated on the ice, draped in the American flag, as they gained a measure of redemption for their heartbreaking overtime loss four years ago.
"It's going to be part of our legacy," gushed Hilary Knight, who scored the first goal of the game. "The things we have gone through together on and off the ice, the characters, the group of women we have in this room, it's quite incredible."
The Lamoureux twins played key roles in the victory. Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored the game-winner in a shootout with a dramatic, circus shot of a goal in the sixth round of shots to put the USA ahead. U.S. goalie Maddie Rooney, born the year before the U.S. last won the gold, made the pressure-filled final save, stopping Canada's Meghan Acosta to give USA the win they have coveted.
Jocelyne needed her sister's -- and linemate's -- magic on the ice to get that chance for glory.
"It's been a dream come true to do this," said Jocelyne. "We have pushed each other since we were little and our brothers have kicked our butts along the way. To contribute the way we did today, we have prepared for this and what we have gone through the last month."
In the third period, Monique Lamoureux-Morando streaked down the ice on a breakaway after Rooney stopped a 2-on-1 rush with just over six minutes to play, and lifted a shot into the upper right corner of the net, the only place Canada goalie Shannon Szabados couldn't get to it, to tie the game at 2-2.
The U.S. lost to Canada in the 2014 Olympic finals in Sochi, when they blew a two-goal lead in the final minutes and lost in sudden-death overtime.
The final on Thursday couldn’t have been more evenly played. The U.S. outshot their rivals, 41-31, over the course of three regulation periods and one overtime. But the Canadians stepped it up on the defensive end, deflecting shots one after the other, to constantly thwart the U.S. attack.
The U.S. got on the board first late in the first period, when Knight deflected Sidney Morin's shot on the power play to go up 1-0, exciting the USA fans in the crowd, who outchanted the Canada fans for much of the game.
But Canada took over in the second, a period in which the U.S. had dominated opponents for much of the tournament, scoring twice and turning up the heat defensively to shut down the American attack. They led 2-1 until Lamoureux-Morando scored with 6:21 left in the game.
This team will go down in history not only for their play on the ice, but for their willingness to fight for equal rights. Last March, they threatened to sit out the world championships if USA Hockey did not give in to demands for equitable treatment to the men’s team and provide improved salary and benefits to women. USA Hockey looked for replacement players, but women’s hockey players in the United States stood together and won increased wages and perks.