By Hilary Knight, Two-Time Olympic Silver Medalist | April 06, 2016, 11:42 a.m. (ET)


The second half of the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championships began with a solid tackling of Russia, 9-0, in our semifinal round. Yes, the score shows that we crushed team Russia, but what it doesn’t show to the untrained eye is how we are starting to work more as a unit. Our team is lethal when we operate as one, as a unit. Together we have the best skill sets in the entire world…lethal for opponents.

Our 9-0 win showed brilliant passes, great vision, a unison from our defensive core to our offensive forwards. We accomplished a lot throughout the tournament and continued to grow as a team in our semifinal round, but our jobs were not done. We finished our 3:30 p.m. game hungry for more. Returning to the hotel we had a couple team meetings to refocus us and also show some clips to prepare us for tomorrow. We would play the winner of Finland vs. Canada. Anxiously awaiting, the majority of us found ourselves in the training room/snack room/massage room/puzzle room watching the game. Obviously we want to play Canada as many times as we can, especially on their home soil for the gold-medal game, but until the last two minutes the Canada-Finland game was a little dicey. Canada sealed their fate with two empty netters to advance to the gold-medal game and play us for the world title.

Gold-medal morning: I wake up and walk through our hotel’s inside botanical gardens, a ritual my roommate Jessie Vetter and I had done every morning on our way to breakfast. Curving through the path with a mini babbling brook, I can’t help but think how bittersweet today is. Our group has embarked on this crazy journey, we have trained and sacrificed so many things for this moment, we’ve positioned ourselves to win the world championships. I sit down at our meal tables, grab my favorite breakfast (five pancakes – nothing like pancakes on game day!), I look around and think how lucky I am to be in this room right now.

Our teammates, our staff, everyone who’s part of our group is so amazing. That’s what makes us special. I try not to get too teary-eyed at breakfast, and refocus myself – after all, we are playing our biggest rival, in Canada, for a world title.

After tonight, our team will celebrate and then once we get to the airport we’ll disperse to our own respective cities. We will keep in touch via text or phone (In all honestly probably Snapchat) or we may train together if we live in the same city, but this incredible journey will be over and we will embark on a new one a week after world championships, when we pick up our rested bodies and calm minds and prepare ourselves for another long year of hard work and sacrifices, for another world title, stepping closer to a shot at the Olympics.

At the rink for pre-game skate, I look around the room again; we are ready, now it’s just the waiting game. I’ll go back to the hotel, grab a coffee, my roommate and I will throw an episode or three of “The Good Wife” on (I travel with my Apple TV!!) and I’ll try to chew up as much time by napping until our pregame meal. We’re ready.

The championship game goes into overtime. Our first 1:53 we are down a player with a penalty. We have to kill off a 4-on-3 which is usually a death sentence for special teams, but our goaltender Alex Rigsby really wanted her shutout and continued to stand on her head and offer us a lights-out performance. The play went back and forth. Time winding down. Just under 7 minutes left, Boz (Megan Bozek) takes a hard shot, tips off of Joc (Jocelyne Lamoureux) and pops up. The puck is sitting behind Team Canada’s goaltender, and boom, Carp (Alex Carpenter) scoops it into the back of the net. Before we knew it gloves were off, sticks were flying and a sea of blue mashed together in the corner celebrating our 1-0 win.

For some teammates that was a first world championship, for others a second, and then there’s the grizzled veterans group adding our sixth world championship title to our resumes. After all the experience we have gained throughout the years it never changes the way it feels to pull on that USA jersey and represent our country on a world stage. The feeling of being a kid, playing the game you love with the added pride of representing something far greater than ourselves. That’s U.S., that’s Team USA. I am so proud and humbled to have been part of another world championship team.

So what now? Back to Boston. Going to visit bae. I will enjoy this victory for a little bit, write down some takeaways and reflect on areas for improvement, and then it is back to work – fun work. There isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be than with this amazing group. Our future is limitless.

Special thank you to Kendall Coyne (aka Patty) and Brianna Decker (the other Patty), liney baes. You are only as successful as the people around you, and I am so grateful to play with these two outstanding women. I need to get back into the gym ASAP so I can keep up with you both ;)