DANVERS — You could say the silver lining for team captain Meghan Duggan, after yesterday’s 3-2 loss to Canada in the gold medal hockey game, is that the Danvers native is coming home a two-time Olympic silver medalist.
“Meghan is an incredible athlete, and she’s done incredible things,” said older sister Katelyn Duggan, as she watched the game yesterday at Braccia’s Four66 Pub and Grille on Route 1. She’s an incredible leader. She is so dedicated, and she is so amazing.”
“It’s really great; it’s awesome she won a second silver medal,” said family friend Jennifer Marshall, who was among the 60 local fans gathered at the pub to cheer for the hometown girl. Many were from a tightly knit group of five families that watched Duggan, 26, grow up playing hockey and setting her sights on the Olympics.
“I am so happy for her,” Marshall said. “It’s just really disappointing because they played so great the whole game. It’s right at the end they just gave it up.”
For those rooting for Duggan, there was a lot to cheer about when she scored the first goal of the game, her first for the tournament, in the second period.
“I am so glad that she got a goal in the gold medal game,” Marshall said. “That was so exciting. It would have been great if they won, but she played awesome. She always does.”
Also, Alex Carpenter, the daughter of hockey great and Peabody native Bobby Carpenter, scored a go-ahead goal in the third period.
Still, the loss was a tough one for Duggan’s family and friends to swallow.
Around noon, a boisterous crowd wearing T-shirts with Duggan’s name on the back gathered to catch the game on the pub’s big screens. Most stood through the whole game and pulled hard for Duggan, cheering every time she touched the puck, every time the team or Duggan had a scoring chance and every time she was shown on the TV live from Sochi, Russia.
Cheers of “I love you!” went up after she was interviewed before the game. At the end of the game, when Canada was celebrating on television, the group spontaneously applauded Duggan’s efforts.
“I see a mature athlete at the top of her game trying to win a gold medal for her country,” said Alan Weiner of Danvers, who recalled coaching Duggan when she was a kid. “Fantastic.”
“I heard her interviewed before the game,” Weiner said. “She was so poised, so team-oriented that I am real proud to say I know her. ... Win or lose, she’s a winner. It’s pretty simple. When you get to this height as an athlete and have these challenges, it’s a fantastic thing for Danvers, the United States and the world.”
Paul Rallo of Danvers helped decorate the pub with balloons and a life-sized photo of Duggan. His daughters were friends with the Duggan family growing up.
“This is awesome,” Rallo said. “Chance of a lifetime for Meghan, for all of us.”
Elise Pydynkowski has been a longtime friend of the Duggan family.
“When she was growing up, she was such an excitable, boisterous, wonderful kid, had so much energy. We were always trying to calm her down. She was just unbelievable. Now that charisma is playing. She just has it.”
With the game in the balance in the final minutes of the third period, and the U.S. up 2-1, those in the pub watched a shot head toward an empty net. There was a roar that this could be the game clincher, then groans as it hit the post. The crowd moaned when replays showed how close the puck came to going in.
No one seemed to feel the tug of emotions more than older sister Katelyn Duggan, 31, who stood in the middle of the pub wearing one of her sister’s No. 10 hockey jerseys, the action of the game reflected in her face. At one point, as the game clocked ticked away and the team clung to a one-goal lead, teary-eyed Duggan could not bear to watch, and she covered her face with her hand.
“It’s exciting, and it’s nerve-racking, and it’s all of the above,” she said.
Katelyn Duggan said she was surprised by the number of friends who turned out.
“To see 50, 60 people show up on a Thursday afternoon — it’s pretty amazing to see all these people who love and support my sister. It’s pretty emotionally overwhelming, actually,” Duggan said.
Duggan said her sister went through a lot just to be able to play for the team, including suffering a concussion in 2011 that sidelined her for a time.
“She didn’t know if she was ever going to play again,” Duggan said. “And to come so far from where she was, she is incredible. ... Win or lose, silver or gold, it doesn’t matter. She’s coming home with an Olympic medal.”
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.