Hilary Knight’s overtime goal against Canada in the IIHF women’s world championship was the storybook ending to this tournament for the U.S.
From the U.S. players announcing they were going to boycott the championship, to just days before it was to begin settling their issues with USA Hockey and ending with a gold medal for the first time in history on home soil — it was a story that wrote itself.
“Ton of happiness and joy. It was an amazing game and it was really a team effort and it took everything we had in us to get that win,” said U.S. forward Amanda Kessel of the 3-2 overtime win.
Canada’s storyline was no less dramatic. Finishing the preliminary round with a 1-2-0 record, after falling to the U.S. in the opening game (2-0) and then Finland (4-3) — made them give a long, hard look at themselves. A gritty and fast-paced final proved that the gut checked worked.
Meghan Agosta opened scoring just 61 seconds into the game on a two-on-one rush, going glove high.
The U.S. responded just a few minutes later when Kacey Bellamy beat the screened Canadian netminder Shannon Szabados with a slapshot from the point to tie it 1-1. Szabados kept the Canadians – who were outshot 40-30 – in the game.
Forward Natalie Spooner had a great chance to give Canada the lead as she cut through the middle of the ice and while trying to make her way around two U.S. defenders, she wristed a hard shot that pinged off the goalpost.
Heading into the second period, Canada was handed two power play opportunities in the opening 10 minutes, but U.S. goalie Nicole Hensley kept the score even. She then came up with a huge sprawling glove save later in the period.
The teams remained tied heading into the third period when the U.S. struck quickly. Fighting for the puck behind the net, Knight ended up feeding a no-look pass to Kacey Bellamy in front. She released it top shelf to give the U.S. a 2-1 lead.
Kacey Bellamy hattrick watch. us2-1🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/tApiE18zQ1— Women's Hockey Gifs (@CWHLHighlights) April 8, 2017
Canada finally connected on the power play with Poulin driving down the right wing sending the puck across to Brianne Jenner in front of the net who one-timed it into the corner. U.S. goalie Hensley caught a piece of it but momentum pushed her into the net and putting the puck across the line making it a tie game at 9:44.
With the game in overtime, the U.S. almost put it away eight minutes in with a shot that found its way past the squeezed pads of Szabados and fluttering just inches from the goalline. Defensemen Halli Krzyzaniak came to the rescue, stepping behind the goalie and swatting the puck down the length of the ice.
U.S. forward Knight, who had been dangerous all game, stepped up again. Blocking Krzyzaniak’s point shot inside the U.S. zone, she quickly hopped on the puck feeding it to Kendall Coyne. Rushing down the ice, Coyne dropped the puck to a trailing Knight. She then delivered the game winner over the shoulder of Szabados to give the U.S. their eighth gold in the last 10 at this tournament. Canada has not won gold since 2012.
“This one hurts fright now or sure. It’s going to be a tough one to come back from but it’s more motivation for us,” said Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin, who was the team’s top producer with two goals and four assists in the tournament. “This was a better game for us, from the start of the tournament we went through a lot of adversity and I’m really happy with the way we came out and stuck together.”
U.S. player Brianna Decker was given the tournament Most Valuable Player award. She was tied for the scoring lead with teammate Coyne — each recording 12 points in five games. Decker led all players with nine assists while Coyne was leader in goals with five.
In the bronze medal game, Finnish goaltender Noora Raty turned aside 11 shots on goal to earn a shutout and help her team defeat Germany 8-0. Fourth place is the highest placing for the German squad. It is Finlands 12th bronze at the women’s world championship.
The tournament’s Top Goaltender award went to Finnish netminder Raty, Best Defenceman to her teammate Jenni Hiirikoski and Best Forward was Decker.Back to Top
1) Top Rookie Talent Ready to Crack WHL
2) Puck Dropping on 2017-18 BCHL Season
3) Chilliwack Chiefs Gear Up to Host 2018 RBC Cup
4) Maschmeyer Adjusting to New Future with Former Rival Canadiennes
5) Puck Drop Edition: Gear Up for the Minor Hockey Season