Assistant captain Brianna Decker, one of the U.S. women's hockey team's most important players, was taken off the ice on a stretcher midway through the first period of the squad's first game at the 2022 Winter Olympics Thursday morning.
Decker got tangled up with Finnish defender Ronja Savolainen behind the net, and the two fell awkwardly to the ice. Decker's left leg appeared to get caught underneath Savolainen, and she remained on the ice until the medical staff placed her on a stretcher and wheeled her to the locker room.
USA Hockey confirmed Thursday that Decker will miss the remainder of the Olympics as a result of the injury.
"It is a tough loss, especially so early in this tournament. She is a huge part of this team ... It was sickening," said U.S. forward Amanda Kessel. "She is one of the toughest players I have ever played with. She is not staying down on the ice and not crying if it was not bad ... It was a gut punch to the team, but I am happy with how we responded."
Losing the 30-year-old for an extended period is a massive blow for this U.S. team as it looks to defend its Olympic title from PyeongChang. She logged three assists in five games for the U.S. in 2018, and in 2014 she averaged over a point per game with two goals and four assists in five contests.