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Among Western New Yorkers, there was much rejoicing for Emily Pfalzer

Emily Regan watched the U.S. women's hockey team win the Olympic gold medal and she was nearly in tears of joy.

Regan knows what this moment is all about, winning gold with the U.S. women's rowing team in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Against the backdrop of that experience, she watched fellow Western New Yorker, and fellow Nichols graduate, Emily Pfalzer get her turn at the gold medal.

"First of all, watching the Olympics is so emotional for me right now," said Regan, who is in Princeton, N.J., at the U.S. Rowing headquarters, beginning her preparations for the 2020 Games. "You really know what it takes and all the work and the ups and downs. So to see the emotion on their faces, you can relate to it in such a real way. You felt those same emotions. It was pretty cool seeing, one another Nichols student win a gold medal but to see another female student-athlete win a gold, that's just even more special to me."

It was a celebratory moment for all of Western New York as Pfalzer got social media shoutouts from the Buffalo Bills, Mayor Byron Brown and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer among others.

 

Pfalzer was one of the top defenders for Team USA in its 3-2 shootout win over rival Canada in the gold medal game that finished early Thursday morning.

Jocelyne Lamoureaux-Davidson scored the game-winner in the sixth round of the shootout while goalie Maddie Rooney stopped 29 shots and four of Canada's six shootout attempts to give the U.S. their first Olympic gold in 20 years.

Pfalzer was up for the U.S. in the shootout round, but was unable to beat Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados. Pfalzer had three shots during regulation and was plus-1 in the gold medal game.

Her performance was no surprise to her hockey family back in Buffalo.

The Buffalo Beauts, her team for the past two seasons, had finished a late practice in HarborCenter around 10:15 p.m. They went to (716) Food and Sport to watch the game and although there was some Canadian-American rivalry among the teammates, there was certainly something special about seeing Pfalzer win the gold. Especially for Buffalo native, and another Nichols alumna, Jacquie Greco.

"I played with Emily in high school. I practiced with her, worked out with her, trained with her and I see what it takes to be an Olympic athlete," Greco said. "I saw her day in, day out. She lived and breathed hockey. She's worked for this her entire life, ever since she laced up skates for the first time. To see her win gold, really the ultimate goal in women's hockey, and to be from Buffalo and have played high school hockey with her and play professionally with her is kind of an honor."

Pfalzer has been the face of women's hockey in Western New York for two seasons as the Buffalo Beauts and the National Women's Hockey League came into existence. Pfalzer and the rest of the U.S. Olympians did not play in the NWHL this season, taking a year off to centralize with USA Hockey in preparation for the games. But Greco said people still come to games and ask, "Where's Emily."

"I think the most jerseys I see are Emily Pfalzer jerseys," Greco said. "She is that all-around team player and a Buffalo native and people from Buffalo latch onto to that. She has that big, bright smile and she's definitely a prime example of women's hockey and what hard work can accomplish."

 

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