Meghan Hunter still gets emotional when “We are the Champions” is on the radio.
It brings the Oil Springs native, who is the manager of Canada’s Women’s Hockey team, back to Sochi and those incredible few minutes where her team climbed out of a 2-0 hole in dramatic fashion to win gold at the Olympics.
Hunter was in the crowd with family members of the women on the ice. With just three minutes to go in the game against Canada’s archrivals – the Americans – you could cut the tension with a knife, she told The Independent from her Calgary office. “There were moms in front of me crying with five minutes left in the game,” she says adding they thought the gold medal was slipping through Team Canada’s fingers. “I was thinking, ‘how am I going to face these families if we lose?”
The saying goes in hockey that a two-goal lead is the worst thing in hockey since it doesn’t take long to come back from it. “But we were getting down to the final minutes and I’m thinking come on guys.”
Brianne Jenner scored first, then Marie Phillip Poulon tied up the game with just 55 seconds left. And then Phillip Poulon scored again, for the win 8:10 into the overtime period.
“I don’t think I’ve ever jumped that high,” Hunter laughs. “It was special to be part of it and to sit there with the families after all the sacrifices they put in for their daughters – it was such an honour,” she says adding when the winning goal was behind the US goalie it was “pure pandemonium….We went crazy hugging each other and whoever was there…I still get goosebumps just talking about it.
“Still, when I hear ‘We are the Champions’ on the radio and still get choked up.”
Hunter says it was also very sweet to beat the United States, which she admits “really had our number” leading up to the Olympics while Team Canada was going through a coaching change.
“With all that adversity we had; I think that’s why we pulled it out…we trained so hard they were not going give up.”
And while Hunter could relive the Olympic moments over and over, there is more work to do preparing for the next four years. Hunter says Phillip Poulon at just 22, will be one of the key players coming back. “She has so many great years ahead of her,” says Hunter. “She’s sort of the Sydney Crosby of women’s hockey.”
And while Canadian stalwart Haley Wickenheiser may be the right age to retire, Hunter says don’t count her out yet. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she went for another four,” says Hunter. “She’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met.”
Hunter says while there is lots of work to be done for 2018, she’s still savouring the big gold medal win.
“It’s amazing for women hockey; people I don’t even know I heard them talking in the airport about it ‘did you see that hockey game?’ That can only be good,” she says noting there has been lots of talk about whether women’s hockey should remain an Olympic sport. “This raises the level of women’s hockey.”