Many saw the potential for a reverse-style “Miracle On Ice” in Malmö when the Russians stormed back to eliminate the host country Sweden in the Quarterfinals, setting up their second showdown with the United States at these World Championships.
Not only would there be no Miracle, but the defeat would be worse. The Americans walloped Russia 13-1 in the Semifinal, clinching a spot in the Gold Medal Game and retaining the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
Early thoughts of a Russian upset were somewhat validated just 44 seconds in, when an odd turnover in the U.S. zone, doubled with U.S. keeper Jessie Vetter playing a tad too far out of her crease, led to an Iya Gavrilova goal for a very unexpected 1-0 lead. Not ones to panic, however, the red-hot American line of Brianna Decker, Kendall Coyne and tournament scoring leader Hilary Knight came to the rescue, providing all four first period goals in the final ten minutes of the frame, including three points from each Decker and Knight to take a 4-1 lead into intermission. Decker, wearing the “C” in lieu of captain Meghan Duggan, out along with Kacey Bellamy due to illness, handled her new role well, scoring the first two goals of the period.
Similar to their Preliminary Round game, Russia pulled starting goalie Yuliya Leskina after one, replacing her with Valeriya Tarakanova in the hopes of a better result – but like the 9-2 victory, things just got worse for Russia in the second, giving up goals to Dana Trivigno and Alex Carpenter just nine seconds apart early in the second. Hannah Brandt, Haley Skarupa, Jocelyne Lamoureux and Emily Pfalzer continued the onslaught through the second, going up 10-1 after two periods. A late trio of goals from Zoe Hickel, Megan Keller, and the hat-trick goal for Decker finished the evening with a 13-1 boxscore, outshooting the Russians 50-8 and going 3-for-4 on the power play, while only conceding a single penalty all game.
With the win, the U.S. continues its perfect record at the Worlds, where it won the International Hockey Lineal Championship, their 28th, from Canada before dispatching Finland and Russia in the Preliminary Round, gaining a bye directly to these Semifinals. This marks the ninth straight U.S. victory over Russia for the IHLC, just three days removed from a 9-2 victory, and for Russia, who now has failed to win the IHLC in 13 attempts, marks the largest deficit of a loss since a 12-0 crushing by the U.S. in 2011. The Americans now advance to the 16th consecutive Gold Medal final versus Canada, with Team USA looking for their second straight and sixth overall Gold, while carrying the IHLC into the offseason.
00:44 – GOAL – Gavrilova
10:03 – GOAL – Decker (Knight, Stecklein)
13:53 – PEN – Gavrilova, interference
14:14 – PP GOAL – Decker (Picard)
14:32 – GOAL – M. Lamoureux (Decker, Knight)
17:58 – GOAL – Knight (Keller, Schleper)
22:02 – PEN – Sosina, tripping
23:40 – PP GOAL – Trivigno (Stecklein, Pfalzer)
23:49 – GOAL – Carpenter (M. Lamoureux, Picard)
26:01 – PEN – Trivigno, slashing
29:22 – GOAL – Brandt (Skarupa)
30:35 – PEN – Gavrilova, hooking
32:20 – PP GOAL – Skarupa (Cameranesi, Schleper)
34:26 – GOAL – J. Lamoureux (M. Lamoureux)
39:05 – GOAL – Pfalzer
48:56 – GOAL – Hickel
49:18 – GOAL – Keller (J. Lamoureux)
54:03 – GOAL – Decker (Coyne, M. Lamoureux)
56:37 – PEN – Burina, elbowing
W: Vetter (4-5), Rigsby (3-3)
L: Leskina (13-17), Tarakanova (24-33)
SHOTS ON GOAL
17+21+12 = 50
4+1+3 = 8
Goaltenders: Alex Rigsby, Jessie Vetter. Defence: Megan Keller, Monique Lamoureux, Emily Pfalzer, Michelle Picard, Anne Schleper, Lee Stecklein. Forwards: Stephanie Anderson, Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Alex Carpenter (A), Kendall Coyne, Brianna Decker (C), Zoe Hickel, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Annie Pankowski, Haley Skarupa, Dana Trivigno.
Goaltenders: Yuliya Leskina, Valeriya Tarakanova. Defence: Angelina Goncharenko, Alexandra Kapustina (A), Mariya Pechnikova, Nina Pirogova, Anna Shibanova, Anna Shukina (C), Svetlana Tkachyova. Forwards: Lyudmila Belyakova, Tatyana Burina, Yelena Dergachyova, Yevgeniya Dyupina, Iya Gavrilova (A), Fanuza Kadirova, Valeriya Pavlova, Tatyana Shibanova, Yelena Silina, Galina Skiba, Yekaterina Smolina, Olga Sosina, Alexandra Vafina.