NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – You could call them inspiration on ice.
Team USA women’s hockey made history Wednesday night, defeating Canada to win a gold medal at the Olympics.
As CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported, their victory inspires young women in the Tri-State Area to take the sport to the next level.
Ally Detree’s blades cut into the ice, she flies toward the net, shoots and scores, visualizing what it would be like to sink the winning goal for Team USA at the Olympics.
“It was absolutely incredible to be able to see them win gold. I feel like I’m finally old enough to really appreciate it,” she told Duddridge.
Web Extra: Hear from more local players on what the win means.
It was the women’s first gold medal since 1998 – a major victory made all the sweeter by defeating their bitter rivals, Team Canada, in a shootout.
“When I was little starting playing hockey, I was like, ‘I want to win the Stanley Cup.’ But they’re like, no you can’t do that, you’re a girl. So you look to the women’s national team and you think, ‘I want to win a gold medal,’” Detree said.
She’s been playing hockey since she was eight years old, as part of the New Jersey Colonials’ girls program The organization is a member of USA Hockey, whose director says it’s the fastest growing youth sport in the country.
“Going back about 16, 17 years, this was a sport where you found that it was difficult to field teams, based on the fact that there weren’t enough girls, geographically in any given area, to really put it together,” Don Gould said. “There’s about 3,000 girls in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania that play hockey now at a competitive level.”
It’s not just the girls celebrating. The boys say the Olympic gold isn’t just a win for women’s hockey, but for all hockey.
“They’re definitely just as good as guys when it comes to it, and they put their hearts into everything, just like we do,” said Justin Prue.
Some pewee girls play on a boys team – the North Jersey Avalanche. Reilly Hamilton started when she was three years old and recently got the chance to meet Team USA’s captain, inspiring her and her teammates to take the game all the way.
“I work hard on and off the ice. I just think that if I work harder than I am now, or keep working as hard as I am now, I can get there,” she said.
“I want to win one one day, hopefully I can,” added Sophie DeFalco. “It inspires me to work hard — harder than I always do — put more effort in and never quit.”
While they may be too young for Beijing 2022, keep your eyes open for these women to bring home gold in 2026.