PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — Americans Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, twin sister Monique Lamoureux-Morando, Hilary Knight, Meghan Duggan, Gigi Marvin and Kacey Bellamy have a luxury their predecessors lacked after finally capturing the nation’s first Olympic gold in women’s hockey in two decades.
Time to enjoy and celebrate the accomplishment. And no pressure for the three-time Olympians to decide quickly whether to try to play in the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.
At least not because of money. Women at the highest level of hockey in the United States no longer feel forced to choose between playing the game or paying the bills.
”It’s a decision based on whether I have the passion and the desire and skillset to continue to play, and I think that’s what we all strive for when that all came about,” Lamoureux-Davidson said Friday. ”So to have that, I think it means the world to us that we can make that decision based on our love for the game, and we don’t have to make a decision now based on financial means.”
Winning the first shootout in an Olympic women’s final 3-2 Thursday to snap Canada’s golden run is only the latest accomplishment in an amazing year for the team.
Less than a year ago, they banded together and threatened to boycott the 2017 world championships in March, demanding more pay and treatment similar to what the men’s team receives. USA Hockey even reached out to other players, trying to cobble together a replacement team before both sides reached an agreement after pressure from 20 U.S. senators .
That deal netted the U.S. team $20,000 apiece for the gold medal captain Meghan Duggan said she slept with Thursday night, even if she only got a couple hours amid all the celebrating. The players also got a bump in pay up to $4,000 a month in the four-year deal with the ability to make around $71,000 annually and up to $129,000 in Olympic years with contributions from the U.S. Olympic Committee.
So rather than the need to go find a job to pay rent and buy food, the U.S. women can enjoy this golden victory with their families and friends here and once they return home. They’re reveling in this victory, so much that Duggan said they’ll decide whether to go to the White House if invited when that time comes.
The team is also celebrating how far U.S. women’s hockey has come since 1998, when the Americans won the inaugural Olympic gold at Nagano with stars like Cammi Granato, who was among those who lost a fight for better pay two years later. Julie Chu, a four-time Olympian who carried the U.S. flag at the closing ceremonies in 2014 at Sochi, also missed this chance.
Duggan said she and Brianna Decker spent about 45 minutes on the phone Friday with Chu.
”She was just incredible to talk to,” Duggan said. ”She was crying on the phone. We were crying on the phone, and just what a moment. To share that with her it was fantastic.”
A.J. Mleczko won gold in 1998 and silver in 2002 for the U.S., and she told The Associated Press the money wasn’t on the minds of the players trying to erase the taste of silver after the painful loss in 2014 at Sochi. She said it’s amazing women can make a living doing what they love, just like the men.
”Now I look at what they can do from not just the money they’re getting just straight up from their contracts but now the endorsements,” Mleczko said. ”They’re such a great group of ambassadors and I am so excited for the little girls out there and the little boys that can look up to them and say, ‘That’s what I want to do,’ and that is phenomenal.”
The U.S. appears to be in good shape with 20-year-old goalie Maddie Rooney coming through with spectacular saves for gold in her first Olympics. The U.S. under-18 team won the world championship in January against Sweden after knocking off Canada in the semifinals.
Lamoureux-Morando, who scored the tying goal to force overtime against Canada, said some players want to start families and will take a year to re-evaluate what comes next. Like her sister, she is married.
”If you still have a love and passion for the game, which I think we still will, we’ll continue to try and play and be on the team,” Lamoureux-Morando said. ”But I think right now we’re just going to enjoy this win with our teammates. It’s a moment that it’s once in a lifetime. I think we’re going to cherish these next couple weeks, then kind of reevaluate down the road.”
Korea, which debuted at the Olympics with a historic combined team including 12 North Koreans, moved up from No. 22 to 17 in the new world rankings released after the U.S. victory. The IIHF announced Monday that the women’s Olympic tournament will be expanded to 10 times for 2022.
Knight said even with the recent growth, more resources are needed for other countries to get younger girls interested in hockey, even if that means offering support to bring girls over to the United States.
”I think that growth will be contagious around the world, and hopefully we can have more countries competing at the Olympics,” Knight said.
AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at http://www.twitter.com/teresamwalker
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — The Canadians made sure they aren’t going home from the Olympics empty-handed, even after missing out on a third straight gold medal.
Andrew Ebbett, Chris Kelly and Derek Roy each scored in the first period, and Canada took the bronze medal at the Pyeongchang Games by beating the Czech Republic 6-4 Saturday.
This was the third bronze for Canada to go along with nine gold medals for the country that created hockey, not that the Canadians seemed to mind too much when the buzzer sounded. They hugged in celebration at the net where Kevin Poulin made 30 saves in his second straight start in place of the injured Ben Scrivens.
Ebbett and Kelly added a goal apiece in the third, and Wojtek Wolski also scored for Canada, which finished with bronze in 1968 and 1956.
Roman Cervenka scored twice in the final 4 minutes to make the finish more exciting. After a final flurry, the Czechs stood on the ice, propped on their sticks in disappointment at coming up short of their country’s first medal since winning bronze at the 2006 Turin Games.
Martin Ruzicka and Jan Kovar also scored for the Czech Republic.
When these teams met in pool play, the Czechs beat Canada 3-2 and had not lost until a 3-0 setback against the ”Olympic Athletes from Russia” in Friday’s semifinals. Then Germany upset the Canadians 4-3 to keep them out of the gold medal game.
With both teams coming off disappointing losses, they came out a bit slowly with only three shots combined over the first seven minutes. Then Canada and the Czech Republic scored three goals in 31 seconds with Canada on top 2-1 after the flurry.
Ruzicka went to the box for hooking, and Ebbett scored after a shot from Mat Robinson went off Vojtech Mozik’s stick and then Ebbett’s skate at 8:57 for the power-play goal. The Czechs answered 16 seconds later as Ruzicka scored off a pass by Cervenka with the puck going off Poulin’s right skate and in.
The goal had barely been announced when Kelly redirected a long shot from Cody Goloubef at 9:28.
Roy skated up the slot and beat Pavel Francouz with a backhander through the pads off a feed from Brandon Kozun at 15:57. That gave Canada three goals on its first eight shots, a reversal from the semifinal loss when the Canadians gave up three goals on nine shots in the first period in losing to Germany 4-3.
Ebbett padded the lead at 5:50 of the third only to see the Czechs answer 46 seconds later. Kovar scored from the slot off a pass from Roman Horak. Kelly padded the lead with his second at 9:37 from the inside edge of the right circle for a 5-2 lead.
The Czechs thought they pulled within 5-3 on a slap shot from captain Martin Erat just 62 seconds after Kelly’s goal. But Canada challenged for goalie interference, and the goal was waved off for Tomas Zohorna’s contact with Poulin at the edge of the crease.
Cervenka’s goal with 3:34 left was reviewed for a high stick but stood after replay. He added a second with 2:05 left with the Canadians holding on for the win.
More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org
Follow Teresa M. Walker at http://www.twitter.com/teresamwalker
The PHT NHL Trade Deadline Tracker is your one-stop shop for completed deals as the Feb. 26, 3 p.m. ET deadline approaches.
Feb. 23 – Vegas Golden Knights acquire Ryan Reaves and a 2018 fourth-round pick; Pittsburgh Penguins acquire Derick Brassard, Vincent Dunn, Tobias Lindberg and a 2018 third-round pick; Ottawa Senators acquire Ian Cole, Filip Gustavsson, a 2018 first-round pick and a 2019 third-round pick. | PHT analysis
Feb. 21 – Washington Capitals acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal Canadiens for a 2019 fifth-round pick.
Feb. 20 – San Jose Sharks acquire Eric Fehr from Toronto Maple Leafs for 2020 seventh-round pick.
Feb. 19 – Washington Capitals acquire Michal Kempny from Chicago Blackhawks for a conditional* 2018 third-round pick. (*Chicago will receive the higher of Washington’s own third-round draft choice or the third-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Washington acquired the Toronto draft pick from the New Jersey Devils as part of the Marcus Johansson trade on July 2, 2017.) | PHT analysis
Feb. 19 – Philadelphia Flyers acquire Petr Mrazek* from Detroit Red Wings for a conditional* 2nd round pick in 2018 or a 3rd round pick in 2018 or a 4th round pick in 2018 and a conditional* 3rd round pick in 2019 (*Red Wings retain half of Mrazek’s salary. *The 2018 fourth-round pick turns into a third-round pick if the Flyers make the playoffs and Mrazek wins five games during the regular season. That pick will become a second rounder if the Flyers win two playoff rounds and Mrazek wins six games. The 2019 third rounder becomes Red Wings property if Mrazek signs with the Flyers.) | PHT analysis
Feb. 15 – Chicago Blackhawks acquire Chris DiDomenico from Ottawa Senators for Ville Pokka.
Feb. 15 – St. Louis Blues acquire Nikita Soshnikov from Toronto Maple Leafs for 2019 fourth-round pick.
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — The Russians expected to play for the Olympic men’s hockey gold medal for the first time in 20 years.
Their opponent is quite the surprise: Germany will play in its first Olympic hockey final on Sunday hours before the games conclude.
Patrick Hager’s power-play goal at 12:31 of the second period wound up the game-winner as Germany stunned two-time defending gold medalist Canada 4-3 Friday night to set up a very unexpected gold medal game. Germany has only two bronze medals in hockey in its history – the last in 1976.
After upsetting top-seeded Sweden and pulling off their latest amazing win, an elusive gold medal suddenly isn’t so far-fetched.
”Who knows? Who knows?” German goalie Danny Aus Den Birken said with a big smile. ”If we keep fighting like this, we have nothing to lose.”
The Germans may believe in each other, but this is a country that didn’t even qualify for the Olympic men’s tournament four years ago at Sochi. They finished 11th in Vancouver, and they had to qualify for this tournament.
Coached by former NHL player Marco Sturm, the Germans scored two power-play goals against backup Canadian goalie Kevin Poulin with Ben Scrivens out injured. This wasn’t the Canada team that won gold in 2014 in Sochi or 2010 in Vancouver with a roster stocked with NHL stars.
”We didn’t know what to expect,” Sturm said. ”Everyone, the best players should be in Olympics. All the NHL guys should be in the Olympics. That’s just what the event is for and hopefully in the future they will be back on Olympic ice.”
For now, the Germans have capitalized in their biggest win yet. They had a bunch of German athletes in the Gangneung Hockey Center cheering them on.
After Canada’s last flurry was ended with the puck sent out of the offensive zone, the Germans hugged and huddled in celebration with the Canadians simply standing around in disbelief. Even the Germans on the ice may need a few hours to realize exactly what they’ve done, and Winnipeg native Brooks Macek said this win is huge.
”Everybody talks about 1976 and winning bronze medal, and now for the next 50 years they’re going to talk about us,” German defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said. ”That’s why it’s the greatest day in German hockey.”
Matthias Plachta had a goal and an assist, Frank Mauer and Macek each had a goal for Germany. Gilbert Brule had a power-play goal for Canada before being ejected for a high hit on David Wolf. Mat Robinson and Derek Roy also scored for Canada.
Next up for Germany is a powerhouse Russian team that has looked every bit the favorite. Veteran goaltender Vasily Koshechkin stopped all 31 shots he faced to put the ”Olympic Athletes from Russia” into the final with a 3-0 victory over the Czech Republic earlier Friday.
Russia last reached the Olympic final in 1998 when it lost to the Czech Republic and hasn’t won gold since 1992 when it played as the unified Community of Independent States team.
”It would just mean everything to us,” forward Mikhail Grigorenko said of trying to end the 26-year drought. ”It’s huge for us, for the players, for Russian hockey and the whole country.”
Playing in front of raucous, flag-waving fans as they have all tournament, the Russians were not overly powerful but certainly as opportunistic as they were in a 4-0 victory over the United States in group play. They scored only twice on 19 shots against Czech goalie Pavel Francouz and Koshechkin did the rest.
Koshechkin improved to 3-1-0 with a 1.08 goals-against average and .951 save percentage after getting the nod as the No. 1 goalie over NHL prospects Ilya Sorokin and Igor Shestyorkin. He’ll almost certainly start the final Sunday.
”He’s been our best player this tournament,” Grigorenko said. ”He’s been playing (almost) every game and he’s just making a lot of saves. He made some huge saves tonight, and he was good.”
Kontinental Hockey League star Nikita Gusev and Vladislav Gavrikov scored goals 27 seconds apart in the second period on plays Francouz had little chance of stopping. Kirill Kaprizov jumped in to screen Francouz on Gusev’s goal that was upheld after a goaltender interference challenge. Gavrikov put the puck into an empty net on a 2-on-1 rush with Ivan Telegin.
Former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk added an empty-netter with 20.9 seconds left.
”We are here for one reason,” Kovalchuk said. ”And I think we deserve to be in the final.”
In a tournament without NHL players, the Russians brought a roster almost entirely made up of players from SKA St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow, the top two teams in the KHL. That includes Kaprizov, a Minnesota Wild prospect who has been one of the best players in the tournament and could be in the NHL as soon as next season.
The Czech Republic has a chance for its first bronze medal since 2006, when it beat Russia in Turin. Bronze will be important, but the Czechs outshot the Russians 31-19 and went 0 for 4 on the power play.
”It’s very tough when you don’t score any goals,” assistant coach Jaroslav Spacek said. ”It’s tough to win.”
AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker contributed to this report.
Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno