WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — Hilary Knight was listening to the radio when she heard the U.S. women’s hockey team come up.

It wasn’t about a big win on the ice. It was about a fight off the ice that ended with better pay and benefits.

“It’s a big deal,” the two-time Olympic silver medalist said. “Women’s hockey now is on the map. And not only did we fight for things in our sport for the next generation, but hopefully we inspired other people outside.”

Threatening to boycott the world championships on home ice last March landed the U.S women’s national team a pay raise and some of the perks USA Hockey gives the men. Standing together to earn a deal reached only three days before playing rival Canada to kick off the world championships brought them closer together, a bond they used to win their fourth straight world title.

The Americans believe their chemistry couldn’t be stronger and could help them achieve their ultimate goal: ending a 20-year drought by winning Olympic gold at the 2018 Winter Games. Knight says a delicate balance is required.

“After a win like that on both fronts, you sort of feel untouchable,” Knight said. “You’ve changed the world. You’re hoping that you’ve changed the other industries for the better. But also, too, realizing you have to have humility, and the opponent’s right around the corner.”

Earning better benefits was something the Americans had fought for, and lost, before.

Angela Ruggiero, currently a member of the International Olympic Committee’s executive board, worked as an ice rink security guard the summer before the 1998 Olympics to help pay the bills. Ruggiero said her team had a similar fight in 2000 and it was time again for “a real, contested sort of debate.”

The U.S. women threatened March 15 to boycott the world championships in Plymouth, Michigan. They stuck together, after more than a year of negotiations with USA Hockey and threats of replacement players, until a new four-year contract was agreed to March 28. They received support from the unions for the NHL, NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball, along with 20 U.S. senators.

Under the new contract, USA Hockey will be putting more money into women’s hockey, with the national team receiving the same $50 per diem as the men, along with similar travel and insurance perks. A women’s advisory group also is supposed to feature former and current players to help grow women’s hockey.

The women also are receiving more money per month during Olympic training, which began in September. Winning gold would mean bonuses of $57,500 from the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Hockey, combined with annual compensation potentially topping $70,000.

“It’s been great to see progress since then, where USA team athletes can just play hockey,” Ruggiero said. “That’s not to say you’ll make a lot of money, but it defers some of the expense of meals, rent and travel.”

In the end, what will matter most is how the Americans fare on what is still the biggest stage.