PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – First, they got bodies to the net. Then, members of the U.S. women’s hockey team got shots through to the net and the rout was on at Kwandong Hockey Centre, triggered by forward Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson setting an Olympic record for men or women by scoring goals 6 seconds apart against the brave but overmatched Olympic Athletes from Russia.
“I honestly don’t know if I’ve scored two goals in one shift before,” said Lamoureux-Davidson, who blew past two defenders before faking goaltender Valeria Tarakanova to the ice and slicing a nasty backhander beyond the hapless goalie’s reach.
The U.S. women’s 5-0 preliminary-round victory on Tuesday got the formalities out of the way and ensured that their final round-robin game against Canada on Thursday will have some significance. The winner will get the No. 1 seed in the group and a potentially better matchup in the semifinals after both get byes through the quarterfinals.
Not that the U.S. and Canada, the two dominant forces in the women’s game and winners of all five women’s Olympic hockey tournaments, need extra incentive when they face each other anywhere, at any time. Especially after Canada defeated the U.S. in the past two Olympic hockey finals – including an overtime triumph at Sochi in 2014 – and guaranteed that the Americans’ gold-medal drought would last 20 years.
“We want to be the home team, we want to be No. 1 seed. I think we would prefer to be the one seed and play the four seed,” said Monique Lamoureux-Morando, Jocelyne’s twin and linemate. “We want to put ourselves in the best position to have success.
“Those are the games you really get up for. You don’t really have to try and motivate yourself. That one, it’s going to come. It’s a huge rivalry. It’s a great test for us.”
The U.S. and Canada have 2-0 records. Both have beaten Finland – the U.S. by a 3-1 count and Canada by 4-1 – and both defeated the Olympic Athletes of Russia by a 5-0 count, Canada doing that in its opener and the U.S. matching that on Tuesday with the support of a 13-save performance by Nicole Hensley.
The 23-year-old Colorado native pleaded ignorance about a USA Today report that she might have had to alter the design of her goalie mask before the game to remove its depiction of the Statue of Liberty on the left side because the International Olympic Committee considered that image to be a political symbol, which it prohibits. Teammate Alex Rigsby has a smaller image of the Statue of Liberty on her mask and reportedly would have had to remove that, too, but the IOC backed off after a review and Hensley was allowed to wear the mask without altering it. Rigsby was her backup on Tuesday.
“We’re all good. I’m really not sure what happened,” Hensley said. “I’m just focused on playing the games.”
The U.S. women took 50 shots on Tarakanova and Nadezhda Morozova, who took over after Gigi Marvin converted the rebound of a shot by Amanda Pelkey to give the U.S. a 4-0 lead at 14:38 of the second period. The U.S. had taken a 1-0 lead at 8:02 of the first period, when defenseman Kacey Bellamy’s shot got through a crowd in front of the net, but couldn’t pad that lead until Lamoureux-Davidson broke an Olympic record set when Carl Goran Oberg scored two goals for Sweden 8 seconds apart at the 1960 Games in Squaw Valley.
“The most important thing was getting shots to the net,” Bellamy said of the team’s second-period breakthrough. “And I know when we get shots to the net one or two are going to go in. And once that happens, I think it settles our team down a little bit and brings us a little more energy, so it helped.”
U.S. coach Robb Stauber liked the intense drive and barrage of shots that he saw from the second period onward.
“Tonight was a good step in a sense that the energy we showed from start to finish. We had great energy in the first period. We did a lot of good things. We just didn’t deliver the puck to the net as often as we could have,” he said. “Once we corrected that, the energy from start to finish was just phenomenal.”
Stauber would like to see that energy again against Canada – and that barrage of shots.
“We know that opponent very well. We’re just going to play extremely, extremely hard and we’re going to try to duplicate some of the things we did tonight, that we did very well,” he said. “Duplicate the mental preparation and the mental focus, and the physical took care of itself once we flipped that switch between the first and second period. We’re just going to repeat that because I liked it.”