Gangneung (South Korea) (AFP) – American goaltender Nicole Hensley kept the Statue of Liberty on her helmet and the Olympic Athletes from Russia out of her net Tuesday at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
As a result, the Americans and four-time defending champion Canada are on their way to Monday’s women’s hockey semi-finals.
Hensley made 13 saves in a 5-0 victory to cap a day where the International Olympic Committee blamed a “misunderstanding” for reports the Statue of Liberty image might have to be removed from US goalie helmets.
“It’s just a great representation of our country,” Hensley said. “As far as I knew it had been approved so I put it on there.”
Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored the fastest two goals in Olympic hockey history just six seconds apart in the second period, shaving two seconds off the old mark by Sweden’s Carl Goran Oberg from 1960 at Squaw Valley.
“I don’t think I’ve scored two quick ones like that before,” said Lamoureux-Davidson, who charged forward and took the puck from the feet of two defenders before netting a backhand breakaway for the second goal.
“I just caught them in miscommunication. I was pretty happy with that one.”
Kacey Bellamy, Gigi Marvin and Hannah Brandt also found the net in the US triumph.
Hensley, who helped the US women capture the past two world championships, has a large Statue of Liberty image painted on the left side of her mask and reserve Alex Rigsby has one on the chin of her mask.
– ‘Focused on the game’ –
American media reported the Statue of Liberty image might violate the IOC’s rules against political symbols and the IOC wanted it gone.
IOC guidelines on authorised identification say no item can have national anthem words or lyrics, motivation words, political messaging or slogans related to national identity.
But the IOC later said they hadn’t asked for the images to be taken off.
“There seems to have been a misunderstanding,” an IOC spokesperson said. “We have not asked for the symbol to be removed.”
Hensley said she was not bothered by the possible need for last-minute helmet alterations as she prepared to face the US political rivals.
“Our equipment guys took care it,” she said. “I was just focused on the game.”
Together with four-time defending champion Canada’s 4-1 victory over Finland, which stretched their Olympic win streak to 22 games, the Americans and Canadians clinched semi-final berths. Their round-robin meeting Thursday will decide a top seed.
Canada’s Meghan Agosta and captain Marie-Phillip Poulin scored in the first period and team-mates Melodie Daoust and Jillian Saulnier followed in the second.
Finland’s Riikka Valila, at 44 the oldest player in Olympic hockey history, scored with 12:43 remaining to avert a shutout.
“I like where we’re at,” Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados said. “We have grown over the year and I think we are in a good spot.”
Olympic Athletes from Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and Finland will meet to determine US and Canadian semi-final foes.