TORINO, Italy — Although it’s not the one many people expected, Helen Resor ’09 will be bringing an Olympic medal back to Yale.
Resor and the US women’s hockey team beat Finland, 4-0, in a one-sided game last night to clinch the bronze. Canada won the gold later that night by beating the Swedes, 4-1. The bronze was a relief for the United States, which has medaled at every Olympic women’s hockey tournament. But even playing the game was a surprise for the Americans, who suffered a shocking upset to Sweden in the semi-final Friday. With Friday’s loss, it was clear that the much-anticipated Canada-United States final was not to be.
It was Resor’s play that set the tone early for the Americans. After cutting off a Finland forward on the Finns’ first big scoring chance, Resor drew a penalty behind the U.S. net at 1:10 in the first period. The Americans scored their first goal on the ensuing power-play.
A Finnish power-play soon followed, but the Finns could not capitalize on their opportunity. Soon after the teams returned to even strength, a beautiful pass from Resor to a streaking Katie King set up the Americans’ second goal and notched Resor her second assist of the tournament.
King finished with a hat trick, scoring all but one of the Americans’ goals, but it was Resor who gave the heavily-favored Americans the momentum they needed to avoid another upset.
Helen, as usual, was supported by a huge contingent of family and friends, the so-called “Resor Army.” For Helen and her seemingly countless relatives, hockey is not just a team sport — it is a family affair. The Resor family dominated the Jumbotron in the Palasport Olimpico for a good portion of the game, with Resors repeatedly winning “best fan” and “dance contest” spots to show off their support to the whole crowd.
George Resor ’10, Helen’s cousin, will enter Yale as a member of Saybrook College this fall, but George let everyone at the game know that he has what it takes to be part of the Saybrook Strip. The intrepid future Saybruggian spent large parts of last night’s game with his shirt off and his “six” and “Resor” body paintings available for all to see on the Jumbotron.
“It’s surprisingly not that cold,” George said. “But it is the first time I’ve worn lipstick. It’s pretty awesome being here. I’ve come up to see some of Helen’s college games, but I’ve never gotten as into it as I am now.”
Helen’s brother and sister, Charlie ’04 and Jane ’01, were also on hand to support their little sis. While both siblings went to Yale, Jane’s connections with Ingalls Rink run particularly deep. Aside from being a former women’s hockey player herself, Helen’s big sister is engaged to Jeff Hamilton ’01, better known as Yale men’s hockey’s all-time leading points scorer.
But Jane’s focus last night was on her sister, not her fiance or her new house in Wilton, Conn. Jane said she was especially impressed with how Helen responded to losing to Sweden and missing out on a chance at the gold.
“I was really sad for her on Friday,” Jane said. “You have to understand that Helen hates to lose more than anyone you’ve met, so that was really hard for her. But she never gives up. She’s so happy just to be here, and more than anything, more than winning or losing, she’s just proud to be in the Olympics. It’s an incredible experience, and she’s trying to take as much advantage of it as possible while she’s here.”
Liz Gulliver ’08, one of the many friends who traveled to Torino to support Helen, said she was amazed by the stories she had heard about how Helen’s siblings and other family members encouraged Helen to be the best she could be at hockey.
“I feel really fortunate to have the opportunity to come here and watch her play,” Gulliver said. “It’s cool to be here with such a huge family and see how supportive her siblings are and how they always pushed her to work on her game.”
Kate McAdams ’01, a former Yale hockey player, was also there to see Helen, as were Viviana Rodriguez ’08, Lindsay Ullman ’08 and Elizabeth Resor ’08, Helen’s cousin. Nina Resor ’07 and Carry Resor ’09 could not make it because of commitments with the women’s hockey team.
One very important person in Helen’s development as a player and a person who did make it to Torino was her uncle Tom, who coached Helen and fellow Olympian Sarah Parsons at Noble and Greenough, a prep school in Massachusetts. Tom Resor said he often feels like he is watching his own children when he sees Sarah and Helen play, and he said he has been impressed with their play over the course of the tournament. But the most valuable part of Helen’s Olympic journey, he said, was how it brought her family together and made sure there were loads of people in Torino to support her.
“A family of our size doesn’t get that many chances to come together, and this has really brought us together,” Tom said. “It was really therapeutic after the loss Friday for her to be surrounded by family and friends, to have a good time and take her mind off hockey for a while.”
All three teams that medaled saw each other on the ice one last time when they walked onto the rink at the Palasport Olimpico after the Canada-Sweden game to receive their medals. After that, Helen was on her way, once again safely shuffled off into the waiting arms of family and friends.