Mitch's Sports Report: For The First Time In Two Decades, U.S. Women Capture Hockey Olympic Gold
For two decades they waited for redemption. Different players, yes, but all of them representing one country, all of them pining for the chance to reclaim the mantle as best women's hockey team in the world.
And last night in Pyeonchang, the U.S. women's hockey team regained that honor, beating team Canada in a thrilling 3-2 overtime shoot-out to win the gold medal, just as Montpelier's Amanda Pelkey predicted they would do.
Pelkey did not figure in the U.S. scoring last night, but she assisted on two U.S. goals during the tournament run to the finals, and her presence as a fourth line energy player was invaluable in a sport that requires contributions from every player on every shift in every game to reach the ultimate goal.
The game last night was as hard fought and nail-biting as expected, with the U.S. jumping out to a 1-0 lead with less than thirty seconds to go in the first period, and the Canadians tying it up wihin the first two minutes of the second. Canada would forge ahead 2-1 and clung to that lead with about six minutes to go in the third period when Monique Lamoreux-Davidson got into the clear for a breakaway and tied the game at two, forcing an overtime shootout, and in that penalty shot round it was Monique's sister Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson who provided a highlight goal that will go down as one of the greatest in Olympic history, a slow approach to the net, finishing with a triple deke, faking a shot, going forehand to backhand, and at the last possible second, back to the forehand to slide the puck into the net to give the U.S. a 3-2 lead in the shootout, so it wasn't over quite yet.
The U.S. had to wait for their outstanding goaltender Maddie Rooney, who finished with 29 saves on the night, to make one more, securing the gold when she stopped Canada's Meghan Agosta on their final chance. Then it was over the boards jubilation for the Americans with hugs, tears, and the first U.S. women's gold medal since 1998, and one of those medals will be heading back to Vermont to be worn proudly by Montpelier's Amanda Pelkey in the state's capitol.
Canada sees their streak of four Olympic hockey golds in a row broken with the silver, while Finland captured the bronze.
And Mikaela Shiffrin can add a silver medal to the gold she's already won in Pyeonchang. The Burke Mountain Academy alum took second place in the women's alpine combined, using a strong run on the slalom portion to make up for lost time in the downhill section, which had her back in sixth place before catching up with her signature race to grab silver, while Switzerland's Michelle Gisin took the gold.
Lindsey Vonn, who finishes her final Olympics with a bronze medal in the downhill, led the field after the downhill portion, did not reach the podium, skiing off the course during the slalom. Shiffrin, meanwhile, leaves South Korea with gold and silver medals and is still the World Cup leader in slalom.
Former UVM skier Kevin Drury got tangled up with an athlete from Russia in the men’s ski cross final, eliminated from medal contention when he fell following the mid-air collision and lost his ski. But he did have a strong run leading up to that race, seeded third out of 31 other racers.
To men's college basketball, and the streak may have ended with a loss to Hartford, but the University of Vermont men's basketball team got right back to the business of winning and clinched the America East regular season title in the process with a 75-54 drubbing of Binghamton on senior night at Patrick Gym.
The win gives UVM back to back America East titles and the top seed for the America East tournament, which starts March 3rd.
Drew Urquhart turned in a double double with 18 points and 10 rebounds on a night when he and five fellow seniors were honored for their last regular season contest as Catamounts. Payton Henson is also set to graduate and he turned in a 15 point night, and Trae Bell-Haynes poured in 12. Ernie Duncan reached the 1,000-point milestone for his Catamounts career with an 18 point game.
The Catamounts still have two more games before closing out the regular season, knowing they will be the number one seed for the tournament no matter the outcome.
In women's college ice hockey the St. Michael's Purple Knights were playing in the New England Women's Hockey Alliance Tournament against Franklin Pierce and lost a tight contest 2-1 when the Ravens scored the game winner with just under two minutes left in the third period, not long after St. Mike's Emily Lanci had tied the game at one with about three minutes to go. So the Purple Knights season is over, with just five wins on the campaign, but a strong showing against the Ravens before bowing out.
The NHL trade deadline is fast approaching with a deadline of Monday and the Montreal Canadiens made one move, probably not their last as they look to be sellers for sure. Yesterday they sent defenseman Jakub Jerabek to the Washington Capitals for a 2019 fifth-round pick.