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Impact of 1998 women's team can still be felt today

Friday, 01.29.2010 / 10:43 AM / Hockey Weekend Across America

By John McGourty - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Impact of 1998 women's team can still be felt today
The U.S. women's team's gold medal has long-lasting, positive repercussions.
The two greatest hockey coach pep talks were those delivered by Herb Brooks to the 1980 Olympic United States Olympic team -- "This is your time!" -- and Fred Shero to the 1974 Philadelphia Flyers -- "Win together today and we walk together forever."

The 1998 United States Olympic Women's Team won the first Olympic gold medal in women's hockey by defeating Canada 3-1. Gretchen Ulion and Shelley Looney scored for Team USA before Canada's Danielle Goyette made it 2-1 with 4:01 to play. Sandra Whyte, who assisted on Ulion's goal, got an empty-netter with 8 seconds to play. Sarah Tueting made 22 saves.

It was one of two victories the Americans posted over their Canadian rivals in the tournament and they finished with a 6-0-0 record while outscoring opponents 36-8.

For those women, mostly college-hockey stars but unheralded among average sports fans, that was their time and they have walked together ever since.

The memories remain: Tueting leaping in her crease as the horn sounded. Karen Bye and captain Cammie Granato in a long embrace. The whole team holding hands and waving American flags.

The gold-medal winners also included Sara DeCosta, Tara Mounsey, Angela Ruggiero, Colleen Coyne, Sue Merz, Vicki Movessian, Chris Bailey, Lisa Brown-Miller, Laurie Baker, Jenny Schmidgall, Alana Blahoski, Katie King and Tricia Dunn.

The entire team was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame this past December.

It was a great accomplishment but maybe, just maybe, it's not their greatest legacy. Within two years, USA Hockey's female registrations increased 50 percent and all-female teams increased 40 percent. There were 28,346 women registered with USA Hockey in 1997-98, before the Olympics, and 59,506 this season, a 110 percent increase.

King is in her third season as coach of the Boston College Eagles women's hockey team. She is frequently reminded of the impact she had on younger players.

"It's pretty neat," King said. "Some of my college players tell me they have our poster or that I signed their T-shirt when they were younger. It's a cool experience to know that you affected their lives in a good way. I also believe more little girls will start playing hockey because of the 2010 team.

"We affected children's lives in a good way, and some adults too. I've met people 45 or 50 years old who started playing hockey because they saw us play. It's really been a great experience to have impacted people's lives that way."

"It's pretty neat. Some of my college players tell me they have our poster or that I signed their T-shirt when they were younger. It's a cool experience to know that you affected their lives in a good way. I also believe more little girls will start playing hockey because of the 2010 team." -- Katie King

"One of the neatest things has been to see kids on this Olympic team that I coached or instructed in hockey schools," Granato said. "We meet them and their dream is to be on the national team and they know the path. We are watching them now on an Olympic team and it's nice to see that transition.

"We were halfway around the world and had no idea who was watching us until we went into the Surf Cafe in the Olympic Village to read our e-mails. As the Olympics went on, our whole team got flooded in their inboxes. People were watching us. We had gotten used to playing in arenas with no fans and now people all over the country saw us. It was special."


Quote of the Day

You could see out there that everybody was willing to compete, to sacrifice, even blocking shots to the end. Even in the third when we were up 5-0, guys were still working hard and blocking shots That's a nice feeling also for the future.

— Flames goalie Jonas Hiller after his team's 5-0 win over Carolina
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