Rozner: For a night, Team USA women give gift of sport

 
 
Updated 2/22/2018 7:44 PM
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  • The United States players celebrate winning after the women's gold medal hockey game against Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.

    The United States players celebrate winning after the women's gold medal hockey game against Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.

Most days you'd be better off bouncing your head repeatedly off the sharp corner of a kitchen counter until hearing the sounds of hail pounding your skull.

That's what Twitter feels like most of the time.

It's a wormhole of hatred in tiny bites, reason having departed any conversation, politics in everything, divided into absolutes and exponential misery.

Facebook is the same, minus the character limit.

Wednesday night was refreshingly different, at least for a short time, and it lasted into Thursday morning.

It was at about 1:10 a.m. when Jocelyne Lamoureux went forehand-fake, backhand-forehand, and absolutely ruined Canadian goaltender Shannon Szabados to give the United States the lead in the sudden-death portion of the shootout for the Olympic gold medal.

Meghan Agosta needed to tie it to keep Canada alive, having already scored on 20-year-old USA goalie Maddie Rooney in the second round of the breakaway session.

The 31-year-old Agosta is one of Canada's most accomplished players ever -- one of the world's best ever -- and a three-time gold medal winner, named tournament MVP at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

She swooped in on Rooney with the same move down the right side, but instead of shooting high far side as she did previously, Agosta tried to get Rooney leaning for the shot and attempted to tuck it five-hole.

The goaltender did not bite, slammed the door and beat hockey royalty.

It was over. USA gold. Finally.

The winners poured out onto the ice and exploded in celebration, ending a run of four straight Canada golds on the 38-year anniversary of the American men ending the Soviets' stranglehold of four straight with the Miracle on Ice.

But this was no miracle.

The Americans were the better team and dominated the third period -- when Lamoureux's twin sister Monique tied the game at 2-2 -- and during an extraordinary 4-on-4 overtime when the U.S. did everything but score.

It also took a brilliant Rooney save -- short-handed -- with 42 seconds left in OT to give the USA another chance, and the stop on Agosta set off American fireworks.

It also set off the waterworks -- on both sides.

Tears of joy for an American team that blew a lead late in the gold-medal game four years ago, but now taking down their nemesis -- the team they have been unable to put away -- at the Olympics for the first time in 20 years.

Tears of shock on the Canadian side, from ubiquitous hero and captain Marie-Philip Poulin, to goaltender Szabados, who was the reason Canada was even in the game, to the grand Agosta, a Vancouver police officer on leave for the tournament.

It was wildly entertaining, thrilling from start to finish and a superb hockey game.

But it was, as Herb Brooks said in 1980, just a hockey game.

The reality is that 38 years ago it was much more than that for American fans, not that most closely associated with the team could understand it at the time.

Was it more this time? That's up to you, of course.

But those who stayed up late here in the Midwest and on the East Coast seemed to mostly enjoy the game for what it was, a wonderful sporting event that obviously meant so very much to the athletes participating.

The Americans spoke of wanting to play for each other and their country, ultimately winning for one another and America.

They considered it an honor to wear the uniform.

Social media generally draws a line at red, white and blue these days, forcing all to pick a side.

Nothing can just be what it is. No statement simple enough to avoid retribution.

But to be on social media overnight was to see no lines, just Americans celebrating victory in a sporting event that was so very much fun to watch.

If you ask me -- and clearly you didn't -- not everything has to have meaning beyond the game itself, the pure joy of competition, the amazing feeling of winning and the horrible feeling of losing.

Even though almost every news event winds up as such these days, not everything has to be an opportunity for cynical politicians and corrupted talking heads to divide us into angry armies that post with such hatred that the best option is to log off and hope there is a little scotch left in the bottle.

There's no simplistic presumption here that anything will change, but it's worth noting that for a few hours Thursday morning it was fun to be on social media, take a deep breath and enjoy the celebration of a great event.

It was, at its core, just a hockey game -- and a wonderful one at that.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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