Team USA

(photo: www.usahockey.com)

Team USA won their game against Switzerland in the span of 55 seconds.

It took the ladies of the USA’s women’s hockey team roughly ten minutes to fully show up to their battle against Switzerland. They were a little slow, just a little jetlagged on their plays and passes. For a team that is notoriously patient with the puck, passing around until a shot opens up and a pair of hot hands can find the back of the net, the opening minutes of the match were out of character. Switzerland came out on the ice and played with heart; the USA came out on the ice and . . . well, just played.

But nine minutes and 20 seconds into the first,  Team USA found their feet.

Monique Lamoureux netted the game’s first goal with assists from her sister Jocelyne Lamoureux and Meghan Duggan, and just 47 seconds later, Brianna Decker followed suit, thanks to some excellent stickwork by Amanda Kessel and Hilary Knight. Then, 8 seconds after that, Kessel took one for herself off an assist from Kendell Coyne.

It’s terrible to say that the game was over with plenty of time still left in the first, but it was. It rapidly became clear that the three goals had woken Team USA up, and the rest of the game was a relentless effort on the part of team Switzerland to just keep the puck out of their own zone. Swiss goalie Florence Schelling faced 53 shots on goal and saved 44 of them; USA goalie Molly Schaus faced merely 10. Switzerland’s chose to leave Schelling in the net despite mounting goals, and she played with composure through the last buzzer. It’s hard to blame a goaltender when you’re watching Team USA’s offense play at their best–Kessel, Knight, Coyne, Decker, the Lamoureux sisters . . . you need an extraordinary defense to be able to compete against those types of players.

Though Kessel is America’s sweetheart and, apart from perhaps Julie Chu, almost certainly the best-known player on the squad, the win this morning was absolutely a team effort. We saw in particular an excellent game from Kendall Coyne, whose speed took Lara Stalder by surprise during a collision, after which Stalder had to be helped from the ice. (No call was made on the play.) It’s hard to cherrypick players to praise; frankly, the hockey sense and technical skill that the team displayed made the game fun to watch even as the score ticked up and the pressure ticked down. They showed extraordinary speed, control, and just great hockey sense. Decker’s goal included a breathtaking one-two-three passing play that would have made the most ardent American patriot wince in sympathy for Team Switzerland.

One excellent moment showed the Lamoureux sisters on the bench drawing up plays on the board, their coach nowhere nearby. (“We’ve got it, coach, you just put your feet up. Maybe have some Gatorade.” — the Lamoureux sisters, probably.)

The other six goals went, in order, to Knight, a second for Kessel, a second for Monique Lamoureux, two in a row for Coyne (she managed a hat trick, but one of the goals was discounted), and the final goal of the game went to Alex Carpenter.

The U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team is off until Wednesday, February 12, when they will face Canada at 7:30 a.m. E.T.

Molly is not an athlete. She quickly got used to winning the “Best Smile” award at her family's Summer Olympics (an award made up especially for her by her grandmother, who felt bad that she never won anything else). But as they say, "Those who cannot do, write about it from the sidelines and provide orange slices at half time."

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