PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — And now the moment they’ve all been waiting for.
Four years after a devastating overtime loss in the final game in Sochi, and 20 years after their only Olympic championship in women’s hockey, Team USA is back at the doorstep of a gold medal.
The Americans roared past Finland in the semifinal here on Monday, scoring two goals in the first period, two in the second and one in the third. They allowed only 14 shots in front of 20-year-old goalie Maddie Rooney. Team USA has now earned a medal in each of the six Olympic Games in which it has competed, with one gold in 1998, three silvers and one bronze in 2006.
The next and biggest test comes Thursday against Canada.
The scoring began with 30-year-old Gigi Marvin, who has been battling chronic hip issues for years and had to take a break from hockey after the 2014 Games. Dani Cameranesi followed up with a top-shelf wrist shot to make it 2-0 after one period of play.
In the second, it was two quick back-to-back goals from Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Hilary Knight. At that point the Americans had nearly as many goals (four) as Finland had shots (five). By the end of that period, the U.S. led the shot total by 29-9. Cameranesi scored again in the third on a pretty setup by Amanda Kessel.
Now comes a three-day wait at the end of a four-year wait at the end of a 20-year wait. A gold medal would be one of the highlights of the entire Olympics for America, which hasn’t racked up any gold from the ice sports so far in these Games.
But the biggest test is always last for this team, as Canada has crushed American dreams in consecutive Olympics. In Vancouver, the Canadians blanked the U.S., 2-0, and in Sochi they erased a two-goal lead and won in overtime. The holdovers from that loss have been obsessed with finishing the job in South Korea.
“I’ve been a part of two heartbreaking gold-medal games,” captain Meghan Duggan said in September. “I think it’s shaped us as athletes and as people.”
On Thursday, she and her crew finally get a chance to reverse the curse.
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