U.S. women rally to win Olympic hockey opener, 3-1, over Finland

February 11, 2018 GMT

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA -- Monique Lamoureux-Morando demonstrated her toughness in the first period Sunday, when she took a hard knee to the head before sliding into the boards. The U.S. forward didnt miss a shift, jumping right back into a tense game against Finland.

Lamoureux-Morandos encore was even more impressive. Her persistence gave the Americans the tying goal in the second period, fueling a rally that pushed them to a 3-1 victory in their Olympic womens hockey opener at Kwandong Hockey Centre. After the U.S. fell behind 1-0 with 5.8 seconds remaining in the first period, Lamoureux-Morando tied it at eight minutes, 58 seconds of the second, skating to the net and putting a rebound of her own shot past goaltender Noora Raty.

Kendall Coyne scored the winner on a power play at 11:29 of the second as the U.S. outshot the Finns 23-5 in the period. U.S. goalie Maddie Rooney of Andover stopped 23 shots in her first Olympic start, while Raty, the former Gophers star, had 39 saves.

About 12 minutes into the game, Lamoureuxs head collided with the knee of Finlands Venla Hovi and then smacked the ice hard. She barreled right to the net on her next shift. On her tying goal, she collected a loose puck knocked out of a tangle in the corner by her twin sister, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, then cut to the net and stayed with the play until she bested Raty.

I didnt even know that was a knee to my head until someone said something, said Lamoureux-Morando, who had a game-high seven shots on goal. What I remember was my head hitting the ice. Im OK, but it was a pretty hard hit.

To be behind in the first period is not a position were used to being in a ton. But it was a really great test for us, and we battled back.

U.S. coach Robb Stauber, a Medina resident and former Gophers goaltender, was glad his team had to fight to win its Olympic opener. Raty has been one of the worlds best goaltenders for several years, and Stauber said the game indicated how hard it will be for the U.S. to win its first Olympic gold medal since 1998.

Stauber gave high praise to the line of the Lamoureux sisters and Gophers forward Kelly Pannek. The trio combined for 11 shots on goal and set a fierce tone for their team, with no one more fierce than Monique Lamoureux-Morando.

You look at the effort on that play alone, and it was just pure grit and determination, he said. Im very happy with how they perform together. I have the feeling theyre going to have a big impact on this tournament, and that showed in Game 1.

The Finns bottled up the U.S. with outstanding team defense in the first period. While the Americans outshot them 7-1 in the first 7:15, Finland began to pick up steam as the period moved along.

Hovi scored on a wrist shot at 19:54 of the first, converting a beautiful pass from Petra Nieminen. The U.S. was able to better utilize its speed in the second period, wearing down the Finns and battering Raty.

Less than two minutes after Lamoureux-Morandos tying goal, a tripping penalty on Linda Valimaki put the Americans on the power play. Brianna Decker controlled the puck at the left boards and dished it to Hilary Knight, who spotted a wide-open Coyne at the bottom of the right circle and set her up for a top-shelf goal.

Finland got a pair of late power plays, but Rooney held firm, and Dani Cameranesi of Plymouth scored on an empty net to seal the victory. The U.S. outshot Finland 42-24.

The U.S. continues pool play Tuesday against the Olympic Athletes from Russia.