Posted by: Mike Cornelius | February 22, 2018

A Bewitching Performance By Team USA

Midway between Boston and the New Hampshire state line, the town of Danvers shares lengthy borders with five surrounding towns and, at its southeastern tip, one of just a few hundred feet with the city of Salem. Danvers is bisected by I-95, U.S. Route 1, and state route 128, three major Massachusetts highways. While less than 30,000 people call the town home, several times that number pass through it every day, hurrying to and from somewhere else on one of those busy arteries. Most of those travelers are at least vaguely aware that the town’s larger and more famous neighbor has the Witch City nickname, the statue of Elizabeth Montgomery, star of the old television sit-com “Bewitched,” and the annual Halloween festival attracting hundreds of thousands of revelers. But few likely know that Danvers, then known as Salem Village, was home to several of the major players and the site of the first precipitating events to the 17th century trials that resulted in the execution of twenty citizens and the conviction of seven more for engaging in witchcraft.

Nineteen of those executions were by hanging, and one was by the gruesome torture of peine forte et dure. The translation from archaic Law French is “hard and forceful punishment,” an accurate if understated description of an accused who refused to confess being gradually crushed beneath a steadily growing pile of heavy stones until they either admitted their guilt or expired. The killings were all public spectacles, attended by hundreds of area residents caught up in the mass hysteria of the moment. The period of the Salem Witch Trials was a dark and dangerous time in the history of colonial America.

More than three centuries later, locals are readying for another display of public frenzy. Happily the basis for this one is decidedly more positive, and it will culminate with a parade rather than a hasty burial in a shallow grave. For Danvers is the hometown of Meghan Duggan, captain of the U.S. women’s national ice hockey team. After a thrilling 3-2 shootout victory over archrival Canada, Duggan and her teammates are coming home from the Winter Olympics wearing gold.

Duggan is one of three 30-year-olds on the national squad, a veteran who stands out on a roster with an average age of just 24. She was a member of the U.S. teams that finished second to Canada at both the 2006 and 2010 games. As the captain she took a leading role in last spring’s dispute between the women’s team and USA Hockey, the country’s governing body for the sport in international competition. After unsuccessfully negotiating salaries and support services for more than a year, Duggan and the women’s team announced on March 15th that they would boycott the World Championships, scheduled to begin just two weeks later. Since the tournament was taking place in Michigan and the women were three-time defending champions, the threat was potentially a massive embarrassment to USA Hockey.

The national team quickly garnered support from players associations in numerous other sports, and just three days before the start of the tournament, USA Hockey and the players came to an agreement on a new four-year contract that gave team members the chance to earn upwards of $70,000 a year. Duggan called the deal a “historic moment in women’s sports.” She and her teammates then swept through the tournament, outscoring their opponents 28-5 and winning their fourth consecutive world title.

But the Olympics have been a source of frustration for the American women. They won gold in 1998, the first year women’s hockey was an Olympic sport. But in the four Olympiads since Team Canada finished first, with Team USA forced to settle for silver medals in 2002, 2010 and 2014, and a bronze in 2006. Two decades after the team’s sole gold medal, and with the championship game scheduled for the 38th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice men’s victory over the heavily favorite Russians at Lake Placid, the members of Team USA were determined to forge a different outcome this year.

The two North American rivals are the dominant teams in international women’s hockey, making their rivalry particularly intense. Grouped together in the round-robin portion of the tournament, Canada won their first meeting 2-1 despite being outshot by Team USA 45-23. As the top two teams in Group A both advanced to the semifinals. There the U.S. defeated Finland and Canada beat Russia by identical 5-0 scores, setting up Thursday’s gold medal grudge match at the Gangneung Hockey Centre.

The Canadians were the aggressors for most of the contest, but forward Hilary Knight gave Team USA the lead on a deflection just before the end of the first period. Just two minutes into the second Canada’s Haley Irwin slipped the puck past U.S. goaltender Maddie Rooney to even the score. Five minutes later Marie-Philip Poulin, the Canadian captain, beat Rooney with a hard shot into the upper corner of the net.

But with time winding down in the final period Monique Lamoureux-Moranda, one-half of the Lamoureux twins from Grand Forks, North Dakota, leveled the score at two. It stayed that way through the rest of regulation and overtime, with the Americans killing a Canadian power play over the final minute and a half.

Then in the shootout both teams netted two of their regulation five chances, sending the gold medal game into a sudden death shootout. First up was Monique’s sister, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson. She skated in on goalie Shannon Szabados, deked right, then left, then right again before sliding the puck past the sprawling Canadian netminder. A minute later Rooney refused to budge before Meghan Agosta, making a stick save on a point-blank shot that sent the American team and its fans into delirium.

In the days and weeks ahead, as the American team members return from Korea, there will be parades and celebrations in hometowns all around the country. Fans will cheer for the gold medal performance, but also for the steely resolve that won these skaters a contract that ensures fair pay, a $20,000 bonus for winning gold, and a commitment by USA Hockey to growing women’s hockey. One of those parades will be in Danvers, where in another age women who acted outside their prescribed roles did so at mortal peril. Whether there are any practicing Wiccans on the national team’s roster is unknown. But what’s clear is that whenever they’ve most needed to be, on the ice or off, the women on our national hockey team have been magical.


  1. I like the way you threaded the history of Danvers with that of the present day. A very enjoyable read, Mike.

    • Thanks very much Allan. The two stories lined up very nicely all by themselves for that one!


      Michael Cornelius

  2. This is my favorite so far. I like the juxtaposition of the witches and the women on the team.



    • Thanks Don. The two stories lined up neatly for that one. I’m not sure what the hook would have been if the team captain had been from Dedham instead of Danvers!


      Michael Cornelius

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