USA Women’s Hockey: There’s a History; USA vs. Canada

USA vs. Canada - Vancouver 2010 (Robert Scoble/Flickr)
USA vs. Canada – Vancouver 2010 (Robert Scoble/Flickr)

In life, things don’t happen in a vacuum.  For every action, there’s a reaction. It’s the same with hockey.  On Friday night, when Canada’s Brianne Jenner hit USA’s Josephine Pucci with a high, questionable hit, her teammates responded. Post-game, it appeared that the head coach Katey Stone approved.

“We’re prepared to play whatever game we have to play,” U.S. coach Katey Stone said. “We’ll go hard, we’ll play clean, but if the game gets out of hand we’ll manage that as well.”

The game ending fight video went viral on the internet. Of course, why wouldn’t it? In today’s social media, a story has short shelf life. It’s like we all have ADHD. We’re on to the next story, before we can take a breath.

I get it; bloggers are in a hurry to get a video up on Youtube.com. In this case, they forgot to add the hit that caused the brawl. Of course, I took the liberty to include the hit in question. It’s important fact here. It was Brianne Jenner’s high hit that led to the game ending brawl.

There’s also a history here. Previously, Pucci had been knocked out of a game, for a season, two years ago, by Jenner, putting her hockey career in serious jeopardy. Pucci’s teammates were only coming to her aid. Every action has a reaction. Right?

“That player (Brianne Jenner) that hit (Josephine) Pucci took her out for a season, two seasons ago,” Monique Lamoureux said. “She took a head shot at her, so were going to stick up for our teammates and we’re going to protect them. I think Jocelyn obviously body-checked her, but I think it was clean. If you’re going to take a head shot at one of our players there’s consequences for it. Look what happened to me in Burlington (Vermont).”

Another player echoed that solidarity.

“You have to protect your own players and you have to protect your own house,” USA forward Brianna Decker said.

If you’re not familiar with Pucci’s story, check out the story below. This will help you shed some light on her situation. This also sounds a lot like what some of the players in the NHL go through, when they suffered from PostConcussion Syndrome.

Bill Littlefield, Only a Game – Two seasons ago, Pucci co-captained the team at Harvard. She is among the players most likely to be having fun at this camp. She has recently made the switch from defense to offense. More significantly, she’s made the switch to player from spectator. Last winter, Pucci suffered her third concussion. The consequences were different from those of the first two. Pucci figured out pretty quickly that she wasn’t going to be returning to the hockey rink right away, though she thought she could still be a student.

“I did return to school, but I was getting headaches after studying, and if I tried to exercise, I’d get headaches,” she said. “It just, basically going to class and exercising would exacerbate the symptoms and make them worse.”

This should put some of this into perspective, it doesn’t seem to come up when the “brawl” in question is discussed.

Team USA, they’ll make us proud

Women’s hockey is a tight-knit group. Coach Stone was also Pucci’s head coach at Harvard. Having covered Women’s College Hockey for two and a half seasons, you learn right away, women’s college hockey is a very small world. These women know each other from playing with, and against each other. The women on team USA are like an extended family. They have each other’s back.

NCAA Hockey and the International play is their NHL hockey. They only have a finite number of games and their hockey careers are over. That’s it. They don’t have the NHL, or a KHL like the men do.

I think their reaction at the end of the game makes perfect sense, to me. These are not a bunch of knuckle dragging Neanderthals, these are elite, world class athletes.  They’re also good kids that will represent their country well, and make us very proud. They’re hardly a bunch of goons, hacks or thugs. These are polished, well-spoken women.  Shouldn’t they be allowed to get emotional like their male counterparts?

I think so!

Lastly, I also don’t want us to lose touch with what really matters here. This was a good hockey game, between two very good hockey teams. The fight in question was only one part. Let’s not forget that USA manhandled (no pun intended) team Canada and beat them soundly 4-1.