Downers Grove native Savannah Harmon earns hockey silver medal in debut Olympics

Defensewoman was on the ice for key moments in near-comeback against rival Canada

United States' Savannah Harmon (15) celebrates a goal against the Czech Republic during a women's quarterfinal hockey game at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

BEIJING, China — Downers Grove native Savannah Harmon had plenty to smile about after her debut Olympic games this month in Beijing. The aftermath of Thursday’s gold-medal game against Canada wasn’t one of them.

Harmon and the U.S. women’s hockey team doubled-up their rivals in the shots-on-goal category, but couldn’t overcome a three-goal deficit and ultimately fell 3-2.

“I felt it was really evenly matched, they just found a way to get the puck in the net,” Harmon said after receiving a silver medal Thursday at Wukesong Sports Centre. “Definitely had a few bounces we’d like back and a few plays we’d like to do differently.”

The gold medal game was a rematch of the 2018 Olympic final in PyeongChang, in which the Americans won in a thrilling overtime shoot-out. Harmon, a 26-year-old native of Downers Grove, was not part of the Olympic team back then, but experienced a “hungry” Canada team in her debut Winter Games in Beijing.

Team USA (5-2) dropped both of its games to Canada (7-0) —the other came during group stage — in similar fashion. A pair of equally matched slugfests ended with the Canadians landing higher quality shots on goal than the Americans, while also getting stellar play from veteran goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens.

Sporting a white Team USA uniform with blue pants and a matching white helmet, Harmon skated 25 minutes on Thursday, her most of any game in the Olympics. A long blonde ponytail hung down the back of her jersey, covering part of her last name written in blue and a white number 15 outlined in red.

Though she didn’t record a point or a shot on goal in Thursday’s loss, Harmon was instrumental in first preventing a blowout and then fueling the Americans’ near-comeback after the team fell behind 3-0 in the second period. A shorthanded goal from assistant captain Hillary Knight before the end of the period put Team USA in striking distance with a full 20 minutes to play.

Canada's Brianne Jenner (19) chases United States' Savannah Harmon (15) during a preliminary round women's hockey game at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

With just under 10 minutes remaining, Harmon entered the offensive zone looking to score during a sloppy Canada line change. Caught off guard by the American defensewoman driving with the puck, Canada’s Jocelyne Larocque brought Harmon down with her stick, drawing a hooking penalty and giving Team USA a two-minute power play in a crucial point of the game.

“She was great,” said U.S. goalie Alex Cavallini of Harmon. “I have so much faith and trust in her. She and the rest of the defense really helped limit and block shots, especially on the penalty kill.”

Harmon was on the ice for most of the final four minutes of the game with Team USA in full attack mode. Stellar play from Desbiens kept the Americans from scoring their second goal until the clock showed just 12.5 seconds. Canada won the ensuing faceoff and dumped the puck down the ice to essentially end the game.

Thursday’s game caps a wildly successful debut Olympics for Harmon. The Downers Grove native scored two goals and tallied five assists for seven total points in the Americans’ seven games in Beijing. Her 22 average minutes of ice time per game was third on Team USA, trailing only fellow defenders Megan Keller and Cayla Barnes. Her plus-minus of 7 was fourth on the squad.

“It’s definitely still sinking in,” Harmon said after the game, “but the experience has definitely been special. This team and this group of women is special and I’m incredibly proud to be part of it.”