Having combined for over 25 points at the 2015 IIHF Women’s World Championships in Malmo, Sweden, no line was as valuable to their team as Team USA’s terrific trio of Kendall Coyne, Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker. In both victories against Canada (including the 7-5 gold medal game victory), their breathtaking speed and precison passing emerged as key factors for such success.
Considering that the US had relinquished a 5-2 lead, entering the third period tied at 5 apiece, it was only fitting that Decker would score the game winning goal. Her smile throughout the game was a sign of reassurance that the ambitious Canada would not mount another miraculous comeback as they did at Sochi.
Since January 2015, no pair of hockey players in the world has been as dominant or impressive as Knight and Decker. Beginning the calendar year with the CWHL’s Boston Blades, Decker set a league record by recording seven points in her CWHL debut. She would register 32 points in 11 games en route to a Rookie of the Year Award.
Complemented by Knight contributing over 20 points in the same time span, the two would parlay such impressive regular season performances into postseason glory as they hoisted the coveted Clarkson Cup. Such victory would set the stage for them to duplicate their winning magic for Team USA.
Joining them in the second chapter of their remarkable hockey journey of 2015 is Kendall Coyne. Of note, Coyne also called Knight and Decker teammates at the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds (where they helped Team USA capture gold) and the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
One of the greatest players in the history of the Northeastern Huskies women’s ice hockey program, the Illinois-raised Coyne established instant on-ice chemistry with her linemates. In Team USA’s opening match on March 28, the trio combined for four points as the squad defeated Canada by a 4-2 tally.
Showing no fear against Canada in the gold medal game, Coyne would score one of the nicest goals of the entire tournament. Circling the ice in the third period, with no one able to wrest the puck away from her, Coyne weaved through traffic, looking like another Boston hockey legend, Bobby Orr. Releasing a wrist shot that floated past Genevieve Lacasse, it broke Canada’s confidence, providing the US with a 7-5 lead.
For Knight and Decker, whose 12 and 11 points led all skaters at the 2015 Worlds, the end game is the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games. In the history of American women’s hockey, only one woman has ever won the Clarkson Cup, IIHF World Gold, the NCAA Frozen Four and Winter Games gold. Coincidentally, she also played in a couple of games for the Boston Blades during the 2014-15 season; Jenny Potter.
Taking into account that 2018 also marks the 20th anniversary of the first Winter Games women’s ice hockey tournament (where Potter won the gold), a gold medal in 2018 would represent the fairy tale ending that would solidify the legacies of Knight and Decker as the greatest of their generation.
Image obtained from: https://twitter.com/CCMHockey