GANGNEUNG, South Korea – Maddie Rooney couldn't stop smiling. The 20-year-old goaltender from Andover was on top of her game, and it didn't seem to matter that it was a shootout against the powerhouse Canadians.
The first shootout in an Olympic women's hockey final.
With a gold medal on the line.
Rooney's coach, Robb Stauber, made sure not to say a word to her.
"I know she has ice in her veins," Stauber said.
It sure looked like it. Rooney made 29 saves — including seven in overtime — and then turned away four of six shots in a shootout to clinch a 3-2 victory Thursday that ended the Americans' 20-year gold medal drought.
"Frickin' Maddie Rooney," forward Amanda Pelkey said, affectionately. "She just kept calm the whole time. And there wasn't any doubt in my mind that she was going to make that save and win it for us."
"That save" was on Meghan Agosta, after Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson had just made a pretzel out of Canada goaltender Shannon Szabados and given the U.S. the advantage.
The stop triggered a sudden downpour of high-flung hockey sticks and gloves as U.S. players poured off the bench to celebrate.
"It was a blur after that and then all my teammates were running after me," said Rooney, who took another swipe at the puck to make sure it didn't roll in.
Rooney said that before Agosta began to weave up the ice, she looked over at the bench and saw her teammates pointing to indicate she needed just one more save.
"To have their support made it a whole lot easier," said Rooney, who goes to the University of Minnesota Duluth and is at her first Olympics. "I just reacted to her, and then everything kind of went into a blur."
The United States had to replace not one, two but all three of their goalies after losing gold in 2014 at Sochi. Rooney was the goalie in net for each of the three U.S. victories over Canada in pre-Olympic play. She bounced back from a 2-1 loss last week to Canada and then some on Thursday.
"She's a gem, talk about poise," said teammate and fellow Minnesotan Gigi Marvin, who has been rooming with Rooney. "We all knew she had it. She has been around all year and she just owns it."