A minute and a half into the sudden-death overtime period, the Canadians would go on to seal the gold, giving the U.S. a silver medal in the Americans’ first loss of the tournament. As the team’s captain, returning to the tournament for a third year and looking to defend her previous two gold medals, Harvard freshman forward Dominique Petrie saw the result unfold firsthand.
“Obviously, the result is not what we wanted, and it’s a hard one to swallow,” Petrie said. “But, looking back on it, you’re going to learn more from how you respond to what happened in a loss rather than in a win, and I know that I speak for myself, and probably a lot of my teammates as a well, it kind of just fuels our fire more.”
Before coming to Harvard or playing on any U.S. national team, Dominique Petrie fell in love with hockey when she first put on skates. Growing up in her home state of California, however, opportunities were at times limited, especially in women’s programs.
“There wasn’t a lot of women’s hockey at the time,” Petrie said. “Growing up, I played boys hockey all the way through, up until last year. I have been very fortunate in that a lot of my teammates now are going off and playing DI men’s college hockey and are prospects for the NHL Draft.”
Petrie made the most of her opportunities though, and her experience as a hockey player has come full circle in that she is opening up opportunities for young players in her position. Icewomen like Petrie are groundbreakers for the growth of hockey, particularly in “non-traditional markets.” In fact, the USA Hockey actually selected Southern California as its location for the U18 pre-tournament camp around new year’s weekend, and the team’s presence was tangible.
“These events are huge — the amount of fans that we had at practices and at a scrimmage against a boys’ team out in LA,” explained Maura Crowell, coach of the U18 national team and Minnesota-Duluth. “Being at the rink [spectators] and watching us practice and play, that’s critical. It’s one thing to talk about it, but it’s another thing to see it live and get to meet some of these players...Our players feel good when little girls look up to them as role models, and obviously the little girls feel great about it too.”
After a successful youth career, complete with state and league championships in California, Petrie arrived at Harvard as only a 17-year-old — not turning 18 until this month. Being younger than the vast majority of her classmates, however, meant she was still eligible to play on the U18 squad, offering the stars and stripes the unique expertise and perspective of a player who had been through a Division-I weight room and seen the mental preparation required at the collegiate level.
“We obviously have some of the best talent in the country on that team, but when you can get a player, especially a three-year veteran, also your captain, who’s playing Division-I hockey at Harvard in one of the best leagues against some of the best competition, it’s honestly invaluable,” said Crowell. “It shows up in the way that she plays...but also in the way that she prepares.”
Being the oldest player on the team was something new for Dominique this season, but she stressed that her on-ice role remained the same. From beyond just a physical standpoint, although she brought the expertise of a two-time defending champion, she stressed that younger players taught her as much as she could help them.
“But even on a national team, being an older player, I’m still learning from the younger players and seeing what they bring to the table and what I can do myself because you always can get better,” said Petrie. “I’m picking their brains; they’re picking my brains.”
Petrie’s status as the team captain traces back to before the tournament as she was named the national team captain for a series with Canada in August. Her experience as a college athlete and returning player served a major role, but more innate skills also factored in to the team’s decision to select her.
“Dom was named captain at that time [August] at that event,” said Crowell. “I think she’s a natural leader...I think she commands respect by the way she goes about her business. She prepares well, focuses well, is serious about her craft, but also is fun too.
Dom can relate to a lot of different people on the team — not just one group — and I think that personality and versatility is important when you’re putting together a team.”
In her leadership responsibilities, Petrie faced a series of obstacles. Although many of the team members had played with each other before in USA camps, showcases, and World Championships, the 2019 squad was officially named in December, being forced to gel in only a couple of weeks with only one mini-camp to prepare before leaving for Japan.
Upon arriving, the team would have to contend with jet lag and a jam-packed game schedule. Petrie’s biggest challenge as a leader, however, may have come after the tournament, in the moments after the the U.S.’s heartbreaking overtime defeat.
“I think Dom and Katy, her assistant captain, did a great job through the tournament keeping everyone level-headed,” said Crowell. “I don’t think that changed at the end. I think they were the same exact way.”
Going forward, Petrie’s focus will return to the Crimson and the remainder of the team’s ECAC schedule. That being said, although she has aged out of the U18 program, her future with USA Hockey is not over yet.
“She’s certainly a big part of the USA Hockey program,” said Crowell. “[Petrie’s] focus is playing great at Harvard and continuing to put herself on the radar for the next event [U22 summer camp].”
With her past at USA Hockey, Petrie should be a player to watch for the U22 summer events. Outside of winning gold medals of her own, Petrie’s USA Hockey dreams started as she watched former U.S. Women’s Olympics teams, most notably the 2018 team’s gold-medal triumph in a shootout. Her goals for the future aren’t very different.
“You hear a lot of people say, growing up, ‘I want to play on the Olympic team,’” Petrie said. “But, for me — yeah you want to play on the Olympic team — but a big thing is I want to win an Olympic gold medal. I think that a lot of little girls dream about that just as much as I do, and you never want to lose to Canada. Having lost to them, it really is a hard one to swallow, and I think that, for anyone that gets that opportunity after being in the experience, you kind of learn from it and realize you don’t want that experience again.”
—Staff writer William Boggs can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BoggsTHC.