U.S. Women’s Hockey Star Suffers ‘Sickening Injury’ in Opening Game at Winter Olympics

by Quentin Blount

The matchup between the U.S. Women’s Hockey team and Finland was one that fans were looking forward to. But no one wanted to see star forward Brianna Decker go down with an injury.

Not the start any hockey fan could have envisioned. Brianna Decker, one of the team’s best players, got caught up with Finland’s Ronja Savolainen before she fell to the ice screaming in pain. She would eventually have to leave the game on a stretcher with what is being called a “lower-body injury.” We still aren’t sure what the official diagnosis is, but it certainly didn’t look good.

What’s also a little surprising is that the play was not called a penalty by the officials. However, U.S. Women’s Hockey coach Joel Johnson says that he didn’t quite see it that way.

“They saw it as just people getting tangled up,” he said after the game. “I’m biased, and so I saw it a little differently. But I don’t think it was a missed call by any means.”

The gruesome injury occurred in between the first and second periods. Forward Amanda Kessel said it was a “sickening moment” as she and the rest of her teammates heard Decker crying in pain. But she knows just how tough her teammate is.

“She’s one of the toughest players that I’ve ever played with or against, so you know she’s not staying down on the ice or crying when it’s not bad,” she said. “So it’s definitely a gut punch.”

U.S. Women’s Hockey Team Will Play for Brianna Decker Moving Forward

Losing Brianna Decker to such a disturbing injury left many members of the U.S. Women’s Hockey team shaken up. The loss may be a punch to the gut, as Kessel admitted, but there’s also a chance that it helps motivate the U.S. women even more.

“We want to win for her,” Kessel said.

Team Captain Kendall Coyne Schofield feels the same way.

“I just told her, ‘We got this,'” Schofield said. “No matter what she’s a big part of this group. You saw that in our response after she went down, how much we picked up the game and took control.”

In the end, the U.S. Women’s Hockey team rallied and won the game. With the win, they officially improved to a pristine 9-0 record against Finland in Olympic play.

But now they will have to go through the rest of the tournament without one of their best players.

“There’s no replacing Brianna Decker,” Schofield explained. “But in that situation, everyone stepped up to the plate in the way they were asked to. And I think that’s how we were successful tonight.”

Next up for the United States women is a matchup against the Russians on Saturday.