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Heartbroken U.S. hockey not blaming refs after loss

Feb 20, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT

SOCHI, Russia – If anyone had a right to feel robbed, it was Julie Chu. By the referee. By the post. By the kind of dumb hockey luck that so often decides games. For American fans who thought they were upset by what happened in the women’s gold-medal game, consider Chu’s journey to that point.

Three times the 31-year-old had been to the Olympics before these Games, and three times she’d failed to win gold, coming away with two silvers and a bronze instead. Thursday evening at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, with her United States team leading 2-0, with the clock winding down, with Canada appearing out of answers, surely her fourth, and likely final, try would be the one.

VIDEO: Watch the shot that hit the post

It wasn’t. Canada scored twice before the end of regulation, then won its fourth straight gold medal on a controversial power play in overtime.

“I think it’s hard for all of us,” said Chu. “Our mentality, and my mentality, has been about the last four years. This team, and this process that we’ve been through. We wanted to win a gold medal today.”

How did it come so close to happening, only for everything to go so wrong in the end?

“We battled hard,” she said. “We put a lot of pressure on them. We had some good chances. Even a little puck off the post.”

VIDEO: How did the game get to OT?

Chu was, of course, referring to the post teammate Kelli Stack hit late in the game with the Canadian net empty. At the time, the U.S. was up 2-1. Just a few inches to the right and she would’ve had her gold medal.

As for the officiating? Like, say, the questionable crosschecking call on Hilary Knight in overtime that led to the game-winner?

“I think it was pretty even both ways,” Chu said. “Whatever calls were called or weren’t called, it went both ways. There’s not much we can say.”

Instead, she preferred to talk about her teammates, and how proud she was of them.

As did captain Meghan Duggan.

VIDEO: Meghan Duggan explains where it went wrong for U.S.

“I’m proud to be American today,” said Duggan. “I’m proud of the girls, and the game that we put forth. We’ll appreciate these silver medals and head back home and join our families.”

What did she think of the officiating?

“You can’t control it,” she said. “It’s one of those things that you have absolutely no control over. You can talk to the refs, why they made certain calls, why things happened.

“But at the end of the day, you’ve just got to play. We took a lot of penalties, they got a lot of penalties called on them. I’m never going to blame a game on officiating. It comes down to putting the puck in the net, and they got one more than us tonight.”

If only Twitter were so gracious.

Meanwhile, America’s heartbreak was Canada’s joy.

“I think I’m in shock, really, that it worked out in our favor,” said Hayley Wickenheiser, now a four-time gold medalist. “We battled so hard, and we never gave up, and we just put everything on the line to get the job done.  We had a lot of composure and experience to pull through in the end when we needed to, and to stay in the moment.”

Despite being the three-time defending gold medalists, Canada did not come into the Olympics looking like it. The team’s coach, Dan Church, had curiously resigned in December, replaced by Kevin Dineen, recently fired by the Florida Panthers and with no experience in the women’s game. Then, in January, Dineen made the eyebrow-raising decision to give the captaincy to Caroline Ouellette, taking it away from Wickenheiser, who was not pleased.

Of her four gold medals, Wickenheiser called this one the hardest to win.

“If people knew what this team had gone through, they would probably make a movie,” she said. “It’s been an unbelievable year.”

Capped off by an unbelievable game.

source:

Credit: AP

  1. fnc111 - Feb 20, 2014 at 6:32 PM

    I’m embarrassed to be an American today. How do you lose in that fashion? Hopefully the US men step up.

    • realemman - Feb 20, 2014 at 7:08 PM

      I’m a Canadian, and I’ll even say this game was caused by bad officiating, if it weren’t for some puck luck and questionable calls, we would have lost. Don’t ever say the American women didn’t step up, this game was theirs, sometimes things just aren’t meant to be. Don’t get why you’re embarrassed to be an American when your country is leading in medal count and nearly won this game.

  2. canucks18 - Feb 20, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    I understand the frustration over what was a controversial penalty but at the same time that “cross-checking” penalty should have been tripping and should have been a penalty shot. Speaking about odds, it actually gave the US a better chance (slim) but a penalty shot vs a power play? Pick your poison

    • wjarvis - Feb 20, 2014 at 11:32 PM

      The penalty that seemed off was the slashing call to make it 3 on 3. I agree that the cross check seemed like an odd call, but it was definitely a penalty and should have been a penalty shot.

  3. terrier92 - Feb 20, 2014 at 6:36 PM

    No reason to blame refs

    Refs let the girls play

    Canada should have been given penalty shot in OT and refs smartly let the game be decided by the girls

    I’m America but let’s give the Canadian girls credit They fought hard to the end

  4. luz56 - Feb 20, 2014 at 6:47 PM

    Great game… Hold your heads high… I could only wish the pros would play with that intensity.. By the way America get rid of the sense of entitlement.. It has to be earned!

  5. cutelittleguy02 - Feb 20, 2014 at 7:11 PM

    Very nice win after trailing 2-0. Exciting match

  6. luz56 - Feb 20, 2014 at 7:20 PM

    fnc111….. 330M people you should be leading… As for Canadians I guess they ranks either above or below Mexicans Blacks and Asians??? #idiot

  7. mt10425 - Feb 20, 2014 at 8:08 PM

    At the end of the day, I’m proud of them.

  8. luz56 - Feb 20, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    I’m proud of both… Now that’s excitement!! Love it when real amateurs give all they got ..like games before this is a real rivalry

  9. pgilbert2013 - Feb 20, 2014 at 8:56 PM

    Exciting game. I died last year when the Penguins score two quick goals in less than a minute in the playoffs against my Bruins.

    As a spectator and past player (high school and college). It’s so hard when your playing NOT TO LOSE instead of playing to win.

    Head up ladies… Great rivalry.

  10. interiorfan - Feb 20, 2014 at 8:57 PM

    Karma for the soccer game we lost to the U.S. Due to questionable,officiating. Karma tends to,come back and bite you in the butt. Great game but I’m happy Canada won. The men are up tomorrow.

  11. Wineshard - Feb 20, 2014 at 9:02 PM

    Great game. Had the intensity of an NHL playoff game.

  12. realemman - Feb 20, 2014 at 9:52 PM

    You’re really either a bad troll, or just a dumb person to begin with. The States are leading in total medals, and how was I talking crap? I was saying that we shouldn’t have even won, but things just happen like that. You and your stupid idiot self should shut up.

  13. trapshoot - Feb 20, 2014 at 11:30 PM

    fnc111 is somewhere out in left field with the comments.

  14. crusty14 - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:12 AM

    The slashing call was definitely an even it up type call. That being said, the Americans were warned earlier in the game to cut it out, or the next ones a penalty. The breakaway was a penalty , just not a crosscheck.

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