As both hockey tournaments got set to kick off at the 2018 Winter Olympics, many weren't sure what to expect. There was a lot of uncharted territory in PyeongChang: the presence of a unified Korean women's hockey team for the first time ever and the absence of active NHL players for the first time since 1994.
Nevertheless, both competitions yielded plenty of memorable moments, in every sense imaginable—from spectacular individual performances to sweet, golden redemption. Here are the best of the best:
Like any other sport, hockey players employ some gamesmanship when possible to give their team a leg up. For the Czech Republic's Michal Jordan and Martin Erat, that meant guiding Canadian defenseman Chris Lee to the back of their own bench during the two teams' preliminary-round matchup—leaving Canada a man down, if only for a few seconds.
Norway hadn't won a men's hockey game at the Olympics in more than two decades, since the last time NHL players did not compete at the Games. Naturally, with the NHL absent from PyeongChang, the Norwegian squad pounced on the opportunity, riding goals from Tommy Kristiansen and Alexander Bonsaksen to a 2-1 overtime victory over Slovenia.
Leading up to Switzerland's opening game in PyeongChang, the focus was squarely on its opponent: the unified Korean women's team. Once the puck dropped, however, it became clear that this was Alina Muller's show. The 19-year-old -- who was somehow playing in her second Games -- tied an Olympic record with four goals in one contest, including a natural hat trick in the first period.
The South Korean men's team may not have won any of its four games in PyeongChang, but the hosts performed admirably and surprised many with their competitiveness. After their tournament came to an end, the players bowed to head coach Jim Paek in a touching sign of respect that drew tears from players, staff and fans alike.
The Olympic Athletes from Russia were odds-on favorites to take home gold in the men's bracket, and considering they featured the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk, it's not hard to see why. But their tournament began with a shocking upset against Slovakia, which set the tone for a wildy unpredictable tournament.
The American men went home without a medal, but their trip to PyeongChang wasn't all for naught as 21-year-old Ryan Donato enjoyed a star-making tournament. The forward will return to Harvard with five Olympic goals under his belt, which led the team, and was tied for best in the 2018 Winter Games.
It was the biggest moment of her career, and boy did American forward Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson rise to it. With a chance to give Team USA the lead in the gold-medal-deciding shootout against Canada, the 28-year-old broke out a filthy deke for the ages to score on Shannon Szabados. To add to its legend, the magical move has a Britney Spears-inspired name: "Oops, I did it again."
The German men's team didn't even qualify for the tournament in Sochi four years ago. It hadn't gotten onto the podium in more than 40 years—a bronze in Innsbruck (technically for West Germany). But that history didn't stop the underdogs from pulling off three massive upsets: They chalked up a pair of overtime victories over Switzerland and Sweden to advance to the semifinals, where they took down two-time defending gold medalist Canada. The Cinderella story may have come to an end at the final hurdle against OAR, but for the first time since the Berlin Wall came down, Germany has won a medal in Olympic ice hockey.
The Korean women's team didn't stand much of a competitive chance in the tournament: Many players had to learn the fundamentals of hockey within just a few years, and they also had to accomodate for the last-minute unification between the North and South Korean squads. But they did manage to light the lamp once thanks to Randi Griffin, and the lid blew off the Kwandong Hockey Centre.
It was a surreal moment. By the way, that puck is headed to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Was there any doubt which moment would top our list? After an agonizing two-decade drought, the United States finally reclaimed the gold medal in Olympic women's hockey. Lamoureux-Davidson's dirty dangles were only part of the spectacular redemption tour. A huge contribution between the pipes from first-time Olympian Maddie Rooney helped lift the U.S. over arch-nemesis Canada, as well as goals from Hilary Knight and Lamoureux-Davidson's twin sister, Monique Lamoureux-Morando. And it all culminated in an emotional medal ceremony.