Those weren't the tears of joy associated with many Olympic silver medals when the United States women's hockey team lost a stunning heartbreaker in the gold-medal game last Thursday against Canada.
When Canada rallied for two goals in the final 31/2 minutes, then scored a game-winner in overtime, it marked a dramatic disappointment for a team that looked to have a gold medal so firmly in its grasp. Still, Dousman native Brianna Decker, 22, returned home from Sochi, Russia, with an Olympic medal around her neck.
The Canadians scored with 3:26 to go, pulling within 2-1, and pulled goaltender Shannon Svabados in the final 1:35 to add an extra attacker to the ice. With the net empty, Kelli Stack of the U.S. sent a clearing shot down the ice that struck the left post, mere inches away from essentially icing the outcome.
With 54 seconds to go, Marie-Philip Poulin scored the tying goal. In a 4-on-3 situation, with one Canadian and two Americans in the penalty box, Poulin scored again in overtime, clinching the gold medal at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
It was the fourth consecutive gold medal for Canada in women's hockey, while the United States remained on the lookout for its first gold since 1998, the first year the sport was offered in the winter games.
Decker had two shots in the championship match and racked up 6 points to that point in the tournament, tied for the team lead. The former Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner at the University of Wisconsin — which recognizes the top women's hockey player in the NCAA Division 1 — scored two goals and finished with four assists in five games at the Olympics.
Decker, one of several players on this year's Olympic roster with ties to the state and the UW program, will be one of the faces of U.S. women's hockey going forward. As a member of the national team, she has played in three International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championships (2011-13, winning gold in 2011), five Four Nations Cups and one IIHF Twelve Nations Invitational Tournament Series.
At the Olympics, she posted a number of photos on her Twitter feed (@bdecker14), including one with legendary speedskater Bonnie Blair.
"Overall, The 2014 Sochi Olympics was an unbelievable experience," Decker said Wednesday. "The venues were so unique and designed incredibly. Sochi was everything I had dreamed of and more."
Republican Sen. Paul Farrow of Pewaukee issued a congratulatory statement over the weekend.
"Congratulations to Brianna Decker and the rest of Team USA. We're proud of all the talented and dedicated young ladies representing the United States of America and the State of Wisconsin," said Farrow. "While they may have come up just short, today's hard-fought overtime battle with Canada showcased their determination and resolve."
Decker left the area at age 14 to attend Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault, Minn., where she was able to focus on hockey. She took part in the world championships for her age bracket in 2009 and 2008. Before her high-school years, she attended Dousman Elementary and Kettle Moraine Middle School.
Brianna's mother, Marilyn, said numerous local businesses and schools had been supportive during her daughter's journey. Included in that list were Cushing Elementary, the Donna Lexa Memorial Art Fair, Dousman Elementary and the Dousman community at large, Dousman Hair Depot, Dousman House, Engine Power, KM Middle School and the Retired Teachers organization, Moldenhauer Landscape & Design, MacArthur Promotions, Primary Eye Care, Sheild Family Dentistry, Walgreens in Wales and the Waukesha Youth Hockey Association.
Decker contributed exclusive journal entries detailing her experiences leading up to the games to Lake Country Publications in the "Gold Mining" series. Those entries can be found on LivingLakeCountry.com.
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