For the sport of women’s hockey in the United States, Wednesday evening (or Thursday afternoon, Pyeongchang time) represented a watershed moment. Team U.S.A. won its first gold medal at the Winter Olympics since the introduction of the sport to the games back in 1998, ending a 20-year run of Canadian dominance. NBC marketed the game as the best rivalry in the Olympics, and it certainly didn’t disappoint: a 3-2 shootout victory sparked by the heroics of twins Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux, two of the sport’s most vocal ambassadors.
For Boston College women’s hockey head coach Katie Crowley, the win was even more special. First, as a young skater out of Brown University, Crowley, then Katie King, represented Team U.S.A. on the gold medal-winning team at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. But secondly, she had five skaters on the team—two alumni, Emily Pfalzer, BC ’15, and Haley Skarupa, BC ’16; two current skaters, Megan Keller and Kali Flanagan, both MCAS ’19; and incoming freshman Cayla Barnes, MCAS ’22—all earn gold medals around their necks.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling, and you go into that game and you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen. I mean, that is the best game in women’s hockey that you can have,” Crowley said after practice on Thursday, where the Eagles are gearing up for their Hockey East quarterfinal series against Maine, beginning this weekend at Kelley Rink. “To see those teams battle like they did, it was just a tremendous hockey game to showcase our sport and it’s an unbelievable feeling to get the gold medal around your neck.”
Crowley said one of the biggest challenges of playing in the gold medal game against Team Canada is separating the off-the-ice friendships and on-the-ice rivalry. One of her best friends at Brown was teammate Rebecca Kellar, who played for Team Canada. The sport continues to be tight-knit, with many girls playing on the same youth and high school teams, not to mention college. This year in particular separated two major rivalries. Team U.S.A. featured the aforementioned five BC skaters as well as six from the University of Minnesota, while Team Canada had two players from Boston University—including Canada team captain Marie-Philip Poulin—and five from Minnesota’s main rival, the University of Wisconsin (the Badgers also had four on Team U.S.A.).
Those ties run deep to the Eagles. Three current freshmen players are Canadian—Maegan Beres, Willow Corson, and Daryl Watts, the last of whom is a frontrunner for the Patty Kazmaier Award—who have at some point played for a junior team nationally. Crowley said the girls did a good job balancing the two loyalties.
“I’m sure Daryl and Maegan and Willow wanted those five to do well, but also they were probably rooting for Canada,” Crowley said.
She hasn’t spoken to her players since the game, but Crowley made sure via text message to remind them to have fun, enjoy the moment, and take it all in entering the gold medal game against Team Canada. No matter what, she said, the women needed to recognize that they made it to the pinnacle of their sport with the eyes of the world watching. Crowley also noted that the number of girls who play hockey seems to spike up every four years because of how electric the game is between the United States and Canada—even if this one had to end in an unsatisfying shootout.
“I kinda wish they kept playing because it was such a great game and you tend to not win or lose in a shootout,” Crowley said. “But hey, a win’s a win and we’ll take that no matter what.”
The women she did actively talk to, however, were the members of her 1998 team group chat. NBC color commentator A.J. Mleczko noted during the game that the team members’ group text was popping, and Crowley said that the team plans to have a 20-year reunion at some point over the summer.
“We had a good text chain going with our whole group, talking back and forth,” Crowley said. “And leading up to the Olympics we’ve all been in contact and it’s just bringing back unbelievable memories.”
Crowley did, however, confirm that there was not going to be a 1972 Miami Dolphins moment of popping the champagne if they had in fact remained the only team to bring home the gold.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Senior Staff