SOCHI, Russia — Maybe the rest of the country was near paralyzed with worry and deep in the throes of an all out panic but not Jocelyne Larocque of Ste. Anne and Team Canada.
"I knew we had it in us and I wasn’t worried for one bit," said a grinning Larocque, an Olympic gold medal hanging around her neck and her skates still on her feet.
Well, maybe with the score 2-1 for Team USA and the goalie out for an extra attacker and the puck sliding down the ice towards an empty crease before it dinged off the post caught her attention.
"OK. When that happened I was freaking out. But when it hit the post, I thought that it happened for a reason and we would win," said Larocque.
Win they did. Canada eventually took a 3-2 overtime victory to capture the gold medal and put Larocque in a moment of pure joy and one she won’t soon forget.
"This is forever. I’ll remember this the rest of my life. What a moment. This is so incredible and amazing and wonderful," said the 25-year-old who started playing hockey on a boys’ team in her hometown of Ste. Anne before earning a scholarship at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and then getting involved in the womens national team program.
Larocque was never a sure thing to even make this team but head coach Kevin Dineen learned to trust and rely on her at the Olympics. She scored Canada’s first goal of the tournament and was used in key situations on the blueline.
When Dineen needed the puck out of the zone off a faceoff, Larocque was more often than not sent out on the ice.
"He really came to trust me and I’m so glad," said Larocque. "I really enjoyed the moments and playing with the game on the line. This game was the most fun and nerve-wracking and competitive one I’ve ever been in. Playing in that game? Wow. What a feeling."
Larocque’s best friend and fellow Ste. Anne native Bailey Bram was Canada’s last cut, removed from the roster just before Christmas.
"Yeah, I wish she was here. But that’s sports. It can be hard. The coaching staff had to make a decision. It’s out of my control. But she’s been great, sending me messages and cheering me on. The whole Bram family has been behind me and given me great support," she said.
Larocque kept looking down at her gold medal and finally, just as she was about to head into the dressing room for the celebration of a lifetime, she was asked where she wanted to take that medal.
"All over Manitoba. I want everyone I know to touch it and share it. So many people helped me get here and supported me along the way," said Larocque. "This is theirs too."