Gophers and Bulldogs are golden in epic U.S. victory
In the wee hours of the North American morning, on the 38th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, the two superpowers of women’s hockey finally settled the score in the gold-medal game of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
It took 60 minutes of regulation play, a scintillating overtime period, and six rounds of a heart-stopping shootout, but Team USA finally prevailed 3-2 over archrival and nemesis Team Canada, ending the Canadians’ streak of four straight gold medals. And what made the game extra special for fans of Team USA back in Minnesota were the spectacular performances turned in by a number of players with University of Minnesota connections.
Topping the list of luminaries was Team USA goaltender Maddie Rooney, a 20-year-old from the University of Minnesota Duluth who played with the poise of an Olympic veteran. Rooney, whose mask artwork includes a rendering of the Duluth lift bridge on the back panel, made a couple of key sprawling saves and preserved the shootout victory in the sixth round.
Two former Golden Gopher stars, Gigi Marvin and Amanda Kessel, scored the first two goals for Team USA in the shootout, with Kessel’s coming on a laser wrist shot over the glove of Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados, who stymied the Americans in the previous two Olympics.
Four other former and current Gophers contributed to the Americans’ cause, as well—Dani Cameranesi, Hannah Brandt, Lee Stecklein, and UMTC senior Kelly Pannek. UMD player Sidney Morin also shone for Team USA, and three other Bulldogs played for Team Canada, including Haley Irwin, who scored the Canadians’ first goal. Former Gopher goalie and UMD coach Robb Stauber was Team USA's head coach and Gopher alum Brett Strot his associate.
At game's end, Gopher women's hockey head coach Brad Frost tweeted, "Tell me that wasn't one of the best hockey games you've ever seen!!!" A rhetorical command indeed, as it had instantly become the Classic in Korea. And it was eight former Bulldogs and Gophers—more than a third of the American team—who did more than their share to help raise the flag for the United States.