Twin sisters Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson salute the crowd after the 4-0 preliminary round win against the Olympic Athletes from Russia. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
Eight-time world champs just won one Olympics
Many consider the United States the top women’s ice hockey nation having won seven of the eight last Women’s Worlds. But then there’s the Olympic curse.
As surprisingly the U.S. national women’s team won the first Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament in 1998, as surprisingly it was left without gold ever since. The U.S. added three silver medals (2002, 2010, 2014) and a bronze (2006) to its collection.
While having won four consecutive Women’s World Championship titles and taken top spot in the IIHF Women’s World Ranking, the Americans were left in the shadow of Canada at the last Olympics too thanks to Canada’s late come-from-behind win in Sochi (watch the full game here).
The excitement for revenge is tremendous on the U.S. squad coached by Robb Stauber, a former Team USA and Los Angeles Kings goaltender who was the assistant four years ago in Sochi.
“Let’s be honest. There is unfinished business. But you’ve got to come at it from the fresh perspective. Hardships drive a certain number of players that were part of it. But you do truly have to just let go and learn from it, which they have,” Stauber said.
“They want to come out of the Olympics saying: ‘We’re the best team in the world!’ [Sochi 2014] is in the past. They also know it is important to put that in the past. We are not talking about it. We are in South Korea and it is 2018 and we want a different result.”
Stauber’s players speak with the same voice and are eager to win their first Olympic gold medal to add to their collection of gold from Women’s Worlds.
“There is nothing I can do about that. I can just get myself ready,” Hilary Knight said about the Olympic final four years ago. “Anytime you can win gold it is game-changing. It is game-changing for our sport in our country. It connects us to people who inspire. Winning would be huge. The U.S. wants to be No.1 in everything and we have all been raised as awesome competitors so at the end of the day we want to win.”
Being in the gold medal game against the U.S. for the third consecutive time is exactly what she wanted: “It's honestly a dream come true. This is the world’s biggest stage. This is the game that you want, the game we've been dreaming of and to have another opportunity to get back here is huge.”
Also Kacey Bellamy said after the last practice she’s just focusing on the new final. “We have done such a great job leaving the past in the past,” she said and added about the ten players who were not in Sochi: “We have tried to explain to them what it felt like but it is great that they have not felt that. I just think it is a great rivalry and it has been for years. It will be all about heart and speed and who can execute the best and the little details.”
The U.S. have had losses against Canada in exhibition games and also here in Gangneung in the preliminary round. But the past has shown that this means little for the gold medal game between these classic rivals.
“We know each other very well and it will be a hard-fought game. That is expected and we want to make it miserable on our opponents to try to defend us, period. So that means we have to move, we have to be fast with our feet, our hands, our mind, everything. And we want to make it miserable on them to defend in their end, which means pucks to the net, pucks to the net, pucks to the net. Over time that is a tough thing to defend against,” Coach Stauber said.
And Meghan Duggan added: “I know what to expect from my team. We are going to come out fast and we are ready to go!”
Still, there was the 2-1 loss in the last game in the preliminary round Team USA must build on and improve if it wants the stars and stripes flag on top tomorrow.
“We had a lot of point-blank scoring opportunities and it’s just, we got to finish. We got to find a way to get those scrums in the net. We had a couple literally inches away from just putting some in so we've got to find a way to just get those in the net,” said Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson.
“We were happy with how we played. We outshot them two to one and we're not going to dwell on it. We’re going to build off what we did and maybe fine-tune a few things, but we’re confident to stick with what we’ve been doing and what has gotten us success the last few years.”
Also her twin sister is looking forward to this much anticipated game: “You train four years for this one game, but the time that it takes and the amount of work and sacrifice it takes, not just the 23 players on this roster but those who worked hard to get on this team and did not make it. We are a tight-knit group. This is what we worked for, the chance to win a gold medal.”
The game will be played late, but not too late night in North America. 13:10 Korean time is 11:10pm ET and 8:10pm PT. Watch it on TV with the Olympic broadcaster in your country or follow the IIHF.com live ticker or our live tweets.
With files from the Olympic Information Service