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Haley Skarupa On Winning Gold: 'You Just Can't Believe It'

March 8, 2018
Shortly after the U.S. women's Olympic hockey team defeated Canada in the gold medal game in Gangneung, South Korea, Feb. 22, U.S. forward and Rockville, Md., native Haley Skarupa experienced what she considers perhaps the most unforgettable moment from her time during the 2018 Winter Olympics. It involved her mother, Penny, and her father, Tony.

"I guess when we were on the line waiting to get our gold medals and I spotted my mom and dad from the ice in the stands and waved to them," Skarupa said on Glenn Clark Radio Feb. 28. "That was pretty special because there were so many people there and the fact that I saw them, it was just a very proud moment all around."

The U.S. beat Canada, 3-2, in a shootout for the gold medal. The Americans held a 1-0 lead after one period thanks to a power play goal from Hilary Knight. Canada scored the next two goals of the game and had a 2-1 lead late in regulation, but Monique Lamoureux evened the score with 6:21 left in the third period. The U.S. controlled a 20-minute overtime session, but the Americans couldn't push anything past Canada goalie Shannon Szabados.

A shootout was next. Each team had scored two goals after five rounds, with Gigi Marvin and Amanda Kessel doing the honors for the Americans. Jocelyne Lamoureux started off the sixth round with a gorgeous goal that gave the U.S. the lead in the shootout, and American netminder Maddie Rooney shut the door in the latter half of the round to secure the victory. 

"After Jocelyne scored that unbelievable goal, I was like, 'Maddie's got this save.' I knew right then, I was like, 'We have this.' I think I like held my breath for that last breakaway," Skarupa said. "And then us just clearing the bench, I was like, 'I can't believe we just did it.' You just can't believe it. It's such a blur."

The U.S. won the first women's Olympic hockey tournament in 1998, defeating Canada. But the Canadians won the next four tournaments, beating the Americans three times in the gold medal game. Canada beat the U.S., 3-2, in overtime in Sochi in 2014, after the Americans let a late two-goal lead slip away. That led to the U.S. breaking the string of Canadian victories in 2018.

"I think it's huge," Skarupa said. "People are telling us after everything like, 'You guys made history.' It didn't really resonate until more and more people said it and I was like, 'Wow, yeah, it's been 20 years.' It's insane to me. Obviously, all of the women who came before us and all of the vets that have done it before set the tone for that to be possible. They set it up for us to be able to do this, and the fact that we were able to accomplish that and kind of snap that streak, I think it's huge for women's hockey and girls playing in the U.S. moving forward for sure."

Skarupa had significant international experience heading into the Olympics. She was a part of the national team during three International Ice Hockey Federation (IIFF) Women's World Championships from 2015-2017, with the U.S. winning gold in each of those competitions, according to her profile on usahockey.com. She was also a part of the national team's entry in three Four Nation Cup teams, and she played in myriad events as part of the U.S. under-18 women's national team
But Skarupa had never been on an Olympic team. She described the process she underwent in being named to the U.S. roster for the Winter Games.

"I was on the world championship team for the past three years, and we had our Olympic selection camp," Skarupa said. "It was pretty much almost a year ago, in like April, and I didn't make the Olympic team initially and kind of for the whole summer I was trying to figure out what I was going to do. Was I going to keep playing? Move on, get a job? 

"And I got a phone call in October asking if I wanted to come for like a temporary training camp. They had some injuries. It was a hard decision, but I was like, 'Honestly, it's worth the risk, putting all my eggs in one basket here.' And after a long back-and-forth of not knowing whether I was going to be on the team, I ended up making it. I couldn't even believe it. It was beyond anything I could even imagine, especially after everything that had happened."

Skarupa, who played four years at Boston College now plays in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL), added: "I could've said no thanks to that call. Anything could've happened. There were so many unknowns. The fact that it did work out … don't ever give up and keep working through it because things do work out. Hard work does pay off."

For more from Skarupa about the gold medal game, listen here. 



Photo Credit: Courtesy of USA Hockey