US ICE hockey stars are hoping the solidarity forged in the crucible of struggle can help them take Olympic glory, forward Hilary Knight said yesterday.
Threatening to boycott the world championships last March landed the women’s national team a pay rise and some of the perks USA Hockey gives the men.
Standing together to earn a deal reached only three days before playing rival Canada to kick off the world championships brought them closer together, a bond they used to win their fourth straight world title.
And now the Ice Yanks believe their chemistry couldn't be stronger and could help them achieve their ultimate goal — ending a 20-year drought by winning Olympic gold at the 2018 Winter Games.
“After a win like that on both fronts, you sort of feel untouchable,” Knight said. “You’ve changed the world.
“You’re hoping that you’ve changed the other industries for the better. But also, too, realising you have to have humility and the opponents right around the corner, building, working, doing the same things you’re doing, and every time you show up at the rink it’s a 50-50 battle and you’ve got to be at the top of that battle.” Earning better pay was something the side had fought for, and lost, before.
Angela Ruggiero, currently a member of the International Olympic Committee executive board, had to work as a security guard the summer before the 1998 Olympics to make ends meet. Ruggiero said her team had a similar fight in 2000 and that it was time again for a “a real, contested sort of debate.”
This time round, “they stood their ground and fought for what they believe was right,” she said.
And captain Meghan Duggan said the bond they have gave them energy and momentum they used at the world championships. They also learned a lot about themselves through that fight.
“For sure, it brought us closer,” Duggan said. “Right now we’re focused … on doing what we need to do to achieve our ultimate goal.”