Two Northeastern graduates win Olympic silver medals

Captain Kendall Coyne Schofield #26 of Team United States in action during the Women's Ice Hockey Gold Medal match between Team Canada and Team United States on Day 13 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Wukesong Sports Centre on February 17, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Kendall Coyne Schofield (No. 26), a former Northeastern star, captained the U.S. against Canada in the women’s ice hockey gold medal game at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images

Two Northeastern graduates received silver medals at the Olympic Games in Beijing early Thursday morning—an accomplishment that left them both proud and disappointed. Kendall Coyne Schofield and Hayley Scamurra were on the podium with their United States teammates after losing 3-2 to Canada in the women’s ice hockey gold medal game.

“A lot of people don’t understand. They say, ‘How can you be so upset, you just won a silver medal?’” says Northeastern women’s ice hockey coach Dave Flint, who was a team assistant at the 2010 Olympics when the U.S. won the silver medal. “But you work so hard, you’re trying to achieve the highest goal, and your expectations are to win a gold medal.

“When you win a silver medal, which is a remarkable feat, there’s still that disappointment. They’re all proud of themselves—and everybody’s proud of them—that they won silver, but, for them, their expectations are gold. And sometimes that’s a tough process.”

Alina Mueller, a Northeastern senior who will be returning soon to play for the Huskies, came close to medaling in Beijing. Mueller was sensational in helping drive Switzerland past the Russian Olympic Committee team in an Olympic quarterfinal. But Switzerland was overmatched in a 4-0 loss to Finland in the bronze medal game.

Mueller finished with 10 points (four goals and six assists in seven games), making her the only player among the top nine in scoring to not represent Canada or the U.S., the only nations to have won gold medals in women’s ice hockey.

“She showed in this Olympics that she’s one of the best players in the world,” Flint says of Mueller. “It’s a big deal for Switzerland to get to play for the bronze medal. I know she’s disappointed that they didn’t win. If you think about the supporting cast that all the U.S. and Canadian players have—if she was on one of those teams, I don’t know how many points she would have had.”

Mueller was involved in all of the Swiss goals in a 3-1 quarterfinal victory over the team from Russia. She assisted the opening goal with a clever pass from behind the net. In the final period, she launched a breakaway that she finished under pressure with a defender on her back. Her second goal was the clinching empty-netter.

Mueller, 23, was playing in her third Olympics. At 15 she became the youngest player in her sport to win an Olympic medal when she scored the winning goal for Switzerland in the bronze medal game at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

She’ll be returning to Northeastern this weekend and will be back on the ice when the Huskies open their run at a fifth consecutive Hockey East championship Feb. 26 at Matthews Arena.

“She’s going to be off for a few days to get acclimated back to the time change,” Flint says. “She texted me that she missed the team and was excited to get back.”

Three other Huskies were also skating in Beijing. Devon Levi, currently a sophomore star of the men’s team, was a backup goaltender for Canada, which lost 2-0 to Sweden in the quarterfinals. Dinesa Krizova, who starred at Northeastern from 2014 to 2018, helped drive the Czech Republic to the quarterfinal, where it lost 4-1 to the U.S. And Rachel Llanes, who played for the Huskies from 2009 to 2013, made her Olympic debut with China.

“Rachel’s dad was her biggest fan, and he passed away in January,” says Flint. “It’s really sad that her dad didn’t get to see her play in the Olympics, but it’s pretty special that she got there.”

A spotlight was on Coyne Schofield, the captain of the U.S. team and winner of an Olympic gold medal in 2018. “She’s the face of USA women’s hockey right now,” says Flint.

The U.S. fell behind 2-0 in the opening period to the hot Canadians, who had dominated the early rounds of the tournament.

“It’s obviously not the start we wanted,” said Coyne Schofield, who produced six points (including three goals) in the tournament overall.

The Americans stormed back with two goals in the third period before accepting the silver medal.

“I credit the USA,” Flint says. “They made a game of it. It was testament to Kendall’s leadership. Down 3-0, she was able to keep the team together and focused with a chance to win at the end.”

An American star, assistant captain Brianna Decker, suffered a leg injury in the opening game against Finland that would sideline her for the rest of the Olympics.

“You could tell the whole team was frazzled—everybody didn’t know what to do,” Flint says of the devastating injury. “And Kendall brought the team in and got them all focused, and they responded right after.”

Flint sent Coyne Schofield a congratulatory text after that 5-2 victory.

“I told her, ‘That was a good leadership moment. You saw your team was kind of all over the place, they’re worried about their teammate, they lost focus—and you brought everybody in and got to focus on something,’” recalls Flint. “She was a great leader for us, and she’s an even better leader now.”

In a rematch with Finland in the semifinal, Scamurra—a Husky from 2013 to 2017— scored her first Olympic goal in the final five minutes to seal a 4-1 win that advanced the U.S. to the gold medal game.

“She’s so big and fast and physical, she plays that fourth-line role really well,” Flint says of Scamurra. “Every time she was out there, she was doing something well.”

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