Gold-medal winner pulling for U.S. in women's showdown with Canada
Lisa Brown-Miller of Holland knows what it’s like to skate for an Olympic gold medal in ice hockey.
She knows what it’s like to proudly wear one around her neck, too.
Brown-Miller played forward on the 1998 United States women’s team that took first at the 1998 Nagano Games. It is the last time the U.S. claimed gold.
The U.S. goes for gold at 6 p.m. Thursday in Vancouver on MSNBC against rival Canada, the two-time defending Olympic champion. Brown-Miller will watch intently.
“I think it’s going to be a great game that we have been expecting,” said Brown-Miller, who works at National Heritage Academy’s corporate office in Grand Rapids. She is a six-time member of the U.S. National Team, having played in 1990, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997.
“I’ve been following the U.S. team since the pre-Olympic tour. Some of their games were on NHL Network, and with Facebook, it’s been pretty easy to follow them,” Brown-Miller said. “It seems they’ve been gaining a lot of momentum.”
Both the Americans and Canadians are undefeated. The U.S. has outscored four opponents by a 40-2 margin, including a 9-1 rout of Sweden in the semifinals that avenged Sweden’s upset in the 2006 Games that sent to the gold-medal game.
Canada has been dominant as well, beating Finland 5-0 in the semifinals and outscoring four opponents 46-2.
“They’re a very experienced team,” Brown-Miller said of the Canadians. She also served as a TV women’s hockey analyst for the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.
“They have really good leadership. They’re mentally tough. Against Canada, you’ve got to be physically on top of your game and mentally on top of your game.”
The two teams have been long-time rivals. They’re the best in the world and have faced little competition except for each other.
It offers a unique situation, Brown-Miller said.
“There is an edge carried between the two teams,” she said. “They love playing each other, but they’re not friends. They understand playing each other makes them better. As a competitor, you want to play against the best.”
While the game will be played in front of a partisan crowd, Brown-Miller is confident the U.S. team can win.
She likes how the players’ abilities and the way new coach Mark Johnson — a member of the 1980 men’s hockey team that skated to gold and is known the “Miracle on Ice” upset of the former U.S.S.R. in the semifinals — has brought everyone together.
“What impressed me watching them is they are young and incredibly skilled,” Brown-Miller said. “You call tell they have cohesiveness, a chemistry. In 2002 and 2006, you didn’t see that.”
The Holland Sentinel