The Olympics are nearing an end, but that doesn't mean the nail-biting competitions have slowed down. Late Wednesday night, the women's Olympic hockey match aired in the United States and saying it was suspenseful is an understatement. Canada hasn't lost since the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, whereas Team USA hasn't won a gold in women's hockey in 20 years. In fact, the United States and Canada are the only two teams to ever win gold in women's Olympic hockey. But early Thursday morning, the U.S. women's hockey team took home gold.
With a score of 2-2, the competition went into overtime. At that point, it was clear the stakes were high. Sudden death overtime sounds scary — that's because it is. It adds 20 extra minutes to the game and only eight players are allowed on the ice — four Americans and four Canadians. If the game is still tied after the 20 minutes is up, both teams compete in a shootout.
If you tuned into the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, this might feel like deja-vu. Back then, fans watched nearly the same exact situation unfold. Team USA forward Meghan Duggan reflected on the loss with Sports Illustrated.
Hindsight is 20-20. You lose a gold medal and you say to yourself, "What should we have done?" Had we won, it would have been different. You say, "We did everything right!"
The team had a lot of time to think about what went wrong in that 2014 game.
But when it came down to it, the 2018 gold medal match was much different from the 2014 one — that's because the game went into a shootout after neither team scored a goal in overtime.
During a shootout, each team gets to take five shots. And, to make things even more nerve-racking, both teams made two of the five shots and the shootout went into a sixth round. Ultimately, Team USA's Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored and Canada's Meghan Agosta didn't.
At that point, chants of "USA, USA!" filled the stadium and Twitter basically exploded.
I mean, this next statement is a hyperbole, but seriously. This was difficult to watch.
If you didn't stop breathing, you may have felt like this. I wouldn't blame you. This was a legitimately historic game.
But, really, the USA needed this — it had been two decades.
According to the commentators, U.S. goalie Maddie Rooney was one of the major stars of the Olympic match. At just 20 years old, she managed to block Canada from scoring for a long time. Not to mention, much of the shootout depended on her ability to deflect the puck. In fact, if she hadn't blocked Agosta's shot during the shootout, the results could have been very different for both teams. After the team won gold, she tweeted a humble "we did it" with a gold medal emoji.
Prior to the 2018 Winter Games, Team USA's Hilary Knight, who plays forward, spoke with TIME about how badly the entire team wanted this victory, especially after losing to Canada in 2014.
"When you go through heartbreak it changes you," she told the magazine. "This drive, this feeling inside your stomach, everything you do is focused on 'how do I bring a gold medal back to the United States?'" Clearly, that focus and dedication paid off.
But winning an Olympic gold wasn't the only reason the women's hockey team absolutely shined this past year. Members of the team also threatened to pull out of the world championships if USA Hockey didn't improve their salaries. The organization claimed, according to CNN, that the men's team had better marketing and benefits. An agreement was eventually reached.
Needless to say, both 2017 and 2018 have so far been monumental years for women's hockey. Here's to hoping the team can turn this win into a streak.