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The United States Women’s Hockey Team Seeks Redemption

Maggie Ford, Sports Editor

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Twenty three of the best and brightest women’s hockey players in the United States have the chance to take back what is theirs on February 15th; the status of the most dominant team in the world. The Thursday game will be played against Canada, the rivals of the American women since 1990, when the puck dropped at the first Women’s World Ice Hockey Championship.

For over two decades, the Americans have not been able to consistently solve their red-clad northern neighbors in the Olympic games. While the two North American powerhouses frequently met in the gold medal game, the United States was only able to come up with a victory in the 1998 Nagano Games. Since then, it has lost the championship game to Canada in 2002 (Salt Lake City), 2010 (Vancouver), and 2014 (Sochi), and was forced out of medal contention by Sweden in 2006. To add insult to injury, the Sochi loss was by one goal–victory was just within reach until Marie-Philip Poulin’s slap shot hammered the crushing reality of the silver medal home to the U.S. players.

Silver. Not quite good enough.

Since their heartbreaking loss in Sochi, the American women have been fixated on redeeming themselves. Returning forwards Hilary Knight–who also lost the gold medal game in Vancouver–and sisters Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando, among others, have shared in interviews with the New York Times that they think about their Sochi loss every day, and it motivates them to keep pushing on the ice. (Knight, Lamoureux-Davidson, and Lamoureux-Morando have certainly put in their share of work, keeping their blades sharp in the time between Olympic Games by playing for professional women’s ice hockey teams.) Their teammate Amanda Kessel–who sustained a severe concussion at the Sochi games and was unable to skate for over a year afterward–overcame post-injury physical challenges to return to top form in time to make another run for the gold. Defensemen Kali Flanagan, Cayla Barnes, and Megan Keller balance academics and collegiate hockey at Boston College with national team training, and with success.

They are ready for a rematch.

And they’ve been showing it.

The fixation on gold in Pyeongchang has not just motivated players to work harder, but has also produced tangible success. The U.S. women’s national team beat Canada for the gold medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship, and won several exhibition games against the Canadians in late 2017. These victories indicate that the U.S. women might be establishing a pattern of success against their rival, one that will hopefully carry over into the Olympics.

Whether the U.S. and Canada meet in a medal match as well as the preliminary round or not, the North American rivalry is sure to draw millions of viewers, eager to see the two best women’s teams in the world face off for the title of champion. They may even see the birth of a new era in women’s hockey, one in which the Americans don their laurel crowns–and do not remove them.

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