Seven games that in the end read like a how-to manual for winning an Olympic gold medal.
Team Canada reached its goal in the wee hours of the morning Eastern time on Thursday, Feb. 17 by defeating the United States 3-2 in the final game of the women’s hockey tournament in Beijing, China.
Ingersoll’s Ella Shelton was part of every second. She played in all games and recorded three assists in her first Olympic appearance.
As time ticked down in the gold medal game, the on-ice celebration began and the emotion flowed from the bench to the ice in an explosion of red and black gloves, helmets and sticks in the air.
The release was matched in every set of Canadian eyes that made it to the end of the game awake. Canada had built a 3-0 lead but Team USA chipped away after scoring a goal late in the second and peppering the Canadian net over the last two periods.
The Americans held the puck inside the Team Canada blue line for over 51 straight seconds heading into the final minute of regulation but blocks by the forwards and defence and stops by goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens kept the puck out before Team USA finally knocked in a rebound with 13.5 seconds remaining to get to within a goal.
Earlier in the day, Shelton’s father Warren had described waiting for the game to start as “feeling like you were a rabbit at a coyote convention.”
Those late moments might have made it feel more like being that rabbit at a coyote convention where the caterer hadn’t shown up.
The game came down to the final faceoff at centre ice which “Captain Clutch,” Marie-Philippe Poulin of Canada, won by smashing the puck deep into the Americans’ zone right off the draw. Team USA managed to get the puck deep into the Canadian end one more time but Hilary Knight went down in behind the net and couldn’t create any final chances on goal.
That sealed victory and gold.
“When I was told I had been named to this team I got so excited,” said Shelton. “We actually got together as a group back in July before the world championship. It was a group of 50 people including staff and in late December they named the 23 athletes.”
Shelton played with the London Devilettes from pee wee through to junior and then attended Clarkson University, where she was named captain of the team in her final year.
Hockey Canada had its eye on Shelton going back to her freshman year.
“I had a chance to play in a few senior games and play in the U-22s with Hockey Canada,” said Shelton. “And then I got the chance with the Olympic team.”
And that chance has turned into something magical.
And at just 24 years old, Shelton may have a few more chances to make a whole lot more magic on the ice for Canada.