Two hundred and six seconds.
That’s how close Meghan Duggan and the members of the United States women’s Olympic hockey team were from capturing everlasting glory and reaching their ultimate dream during yesterday’s gold medal match against their archrivals from Canada in Sochi, Russia.
Duggan, the team captain from Danvers, had scored her first goal of the tournament in the second period, giving the Americans a 1-0 lead after 40 minutes. Another North Shore native, Alex Carpenter of North Reading, doubled that lead early in the third period with a goal of her own.
That two-goal lead held up for much of the third period — but the Canadians never stopped working to erase that deficit. Miraculously, they did so with two goals in the final 3:26 of regulation, then the game-winner on the power play in sudden death overtime to stun the U.S. women, 3-2, before a crowd of 10,369 at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
Interviewed after the game by NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire, Duggan tried to put what happened into words.
“We had them at the end, up two goals and under five minutes to play,” said Duggan. “They just pressured us hard. Couple of bounces went their way and they tied it up.”
The 26-year-old Duggan, a right wing, scored on her only shot of the game yesterday, coming 11:57 into the second period. Coming into the Canadian zone, she picked up a drop pass from linemate Jocelyne Lamoureux near the left circle and fired a wrist shot that goaltender Shannon Szabados couldn’t get to. It found the top corner of the twine and gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
In five Olympic games, the 5-foot-8 Duggan finished with one goal and one assist, took one 2-minute penalty, had 11 shots on goal and finished a plus-2.
“At some point we’ll be proud of these silver medals,” said Duggan. “It hurts a little bit right now. You lose your last game and come up short.”
It was the second silver medal that Duggan has earned playing for Team USA; she was also part of the 2010 Olympic squad that fell to Canada, 2-0, in the gold medal game.
Carpenter, the 19-year-old scoring star from Boston College and the daughter of former St. John’s Prep and NHL superstar Bobby Carpenter, concluded an outstanding first go-round at the Olympics with her fourth goal of the tournament yesterday, which gave the U.S. a 2-0 lead with 17:59 to play.
With a power play for the Americans winding down, Carpenter took a pass from Hilary Knight at the far post and put her shot off Szabados and the post for the goal.
By scoring four times on just 12 shots through five games, Carpenter’s shooting percentage of 33 percent was tops on her team and third-best among all female Olympians. Three of her goals came on the power play. She also finished with one assist, one penalty and was a plus-1.
After Brianne Jenner scored at 16:34 of the third period to finally get her team on the scoreboard, Canadian teammate Marie-Philip Poulin buried the game-tying tally with just 54.6 seconds left in regulation with her team’s goaltender pulled. She then netted the golden goal 8:10 into sudden death overtime with her team on a 4-on-3 advantage, ramming home a pass in the slot past Jessie Vetter (28 saves) and into the U.S. goal.