I, like most, will forever be confused by the concept of deciding games of the highest significance with a bunch of solo efforts when the participants trained together for years on end to compete in the ultimate team sport. That said, watching the U.S. Women strip their neighbors to the North of the gold medal that had cruelly slipped through their grasp the last two Winter Olympics by out dueling them in a sphincter-clenching skills competition felt like a more justifiable outcome than most provided by way of a breakaway contest.
Maybe that's because it helped to wash away the lingering stink of watching the men woefully exit while getting shutout in a shootout. Maybe it's because it was already well after 2AM and the adrenaline from another overtime period would have had me closing my eyes to the rise of the sun had it not completely stopped my heart by then. Maybe it's because it was a reflection of the game as a whole in being a wildly entertaining back-and-forth affair that gave me a whole new appreciation for the level of non-gender-qualifying skill on both sides of the ice...
Alright, fuck it, the truth is that the ending only felt more fair because I was able to celebrate it. I'm pretty sure that Canada, as a wholly invested country, felt more strained than their goaltender's lower body ligaments when they had a run of dominance that was going on two decades brought to a painstaking end in a universally despised manner.
That, however, doesn't make any of the previous rationalizations any less true. If a hard fought game absolutely has to end in a shootout then, objectively speaking, one that truly encapsulates just how talented and evenly matched the teams are is the best case scenario. Also, if a hard fought game absolutely has to end in a shootout then, subjectively speaking, one that gets America to pay a little more attention to hockey by pandering to our superiority complex and distracting from the fact that Auston Matthews and Co. were forced to watch from home is a better than best case scenario.
Credit to Maggie Rooney, Hilary Knight, the Lamoureux ladies, and the rest of Team USA for bringing home the gold by any means necessary. The exciting and impressive 80+ minute effort they gave in doing so truly made what was an otherwise uninteresting tournament totally worth watching. Time, and money, well spent...