Jincy Dunne finally has her gold medal. And she’s taking it to Ohio State.
This was Dunne’s third attempt to win a championship with Team USA at the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship. She even wore, appropriately, jersey #3.
Nothing was going to stop her this time. Even if it meant scoring the winning goal in overtime.
Which is exactly what she did.
“If I have to go with one word, it’s ‘grateful,'” Dunne said. “Grateful for the effort my teammates put in. Grateful for the staff that we have. For my parents. Everything. Just grateful for everything.”
The U.S. and Canada U-18 women’s teams entered overtime deadlocked at two apiece with a Canadian penalty extending over from the third period. With the international rules of removing one player in extra play, it became a four-on-three.
Though the Americans controlled the power play, they weren’t generating any shots. Until Dunne took the puck, faced the goal, and let it rip.
“Going into overtime, I said here are a number of set plays,” USA coach Joel Johnson said. “And when they don’t work, which they usually don’t, I said then just get the puck and score.”
Dunne did just that, 51 seconds into the fourth period in front of a partisan crowd at the HARBORCENTER in Buffalo, N.Y.
“I just tried to put the puck on net,” Dunne said. “I saw a small corner and tried to put it there and it went in.”
Dunne didn’t just score the game-winner, she also scored the goal which turned the game around, with 33 seconds to go in the opening period.
With Canada exhibiting plenty of scoring chances and taking a 1-0 lead on an early breakaway by Shae Labbe (committed to Colgate), Dunne took matters into her own hands. She picked up the puck at center ice, raced it into the zone on the right side and cut toward the net, flipping a backhander over the goaltender’s shoulder.
“They had a lot of energy and really out-skated us,” Johnson said of the first period. “That goal by Jincy was a game-changer. That’s a kid putting our team on her shoulders. After that, we settled down.”
The U.S. came out in the second period and dominated Canada, eventually getting a go-ahead goal by Alyssa Gorecki (committed to Vermont) who one-timed a centering pass from Presley Norby (committed to Wisconsin).
However, the Canadians took advantage of one of their few second-period rushes when Samantha Cogan (committed to Wisconsin) tied the game on a shot that deflected off a skate.
It was now time for Dunne’s third-period heroics to finally give her the gold.
“I had enough silver,” she said.
Her teammates were ecstatic not just for the win, but for Dunne finally getting her gold.
“There’s no one on the team that deserves a goal medal more than Jincy Dunne,” said Kaitlin Burt, who already plays at Boston College and made 16 saves in net for the win, including stopping a breakaway with five minutes left in regulation. “It’s just like a movie where you’re rooting for No. 3 to go down and score and it happens.”
“She really deserves this after all the work she put into this team,” said Melissa Samoskevich, who is committed to Quinnipiac and led the tournament in goals with six. “She really was an unbelievable leader for us.”
“She’s an authentic, humble leader,” Johnson said. “And then shows up and scores two goals in the gold medal game. That’s why she’s got the ‘C’ on the jersey.”
Dunne’s career has made her one of the top college recruits in North America. Three times she has played for the U-18 national team, twice being captain. She was even invited to the 2014 Olympic Team camp, getting to play in some early exhibition games. She’s been on the senior team in 2012 and 2013 at the Four Nations Cup.
Johnson, who is also the associate head coach at the University of Minnesota said, “Everybody in the country tried to recruit Jincy Dunne.”
With that type of attention, it would seem inevitable Dunne would select a Minnesota, a Wisconsin, a Clarkson, or a Boston College.
Instead, she decided to become a Buckeye, a school not exactly known as a women’s hockey power.
Why? Well, for starters, her sister, Jessica, is already a freshman there.
“I just really felt Ohio State was the place I was supposed to be,” she explained. “It was a decision I made with my family.”
Joining her in Columbus will be fellow Team USA defender Mikaela Gardner and Team Canada forward Madison Field.
“I’m just happy to have the opportunity to coach her here,” Johnson said. “I told her, I’d love for you to have the opportunity when people look back on this tournament, they say that was the tournament that Jincy Dunne took over and showed she was the best player in the world. I knew she was capable of it. People will be talking about her performance here for a long time.”
Dunne finally got her gold medal on the world stage. Now, she takes it to Ohio State, where she will try to elevate the program into a national championship contender.
You may want to watch out in her third season. The third time seems to be a charm for Jincy Dunne.