In a wild offensive shootout that featured all the recipes for a Sochi-style collapse, the American line of Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker and Kendall Coyne put out a flurry of Canadian activity late in the third period, ensuring the Americans would win the 2015 World Championship Gold Medal and head into the offseason with the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
While drama would have been expected, nobody expected it to be quite like this, such a momentum-swinging game, plotting the U.S. offensive juggernaut against a more calculating, reserved Canadian side. Annie Pankowski set the tone early after burying a Dana Trivigno rebound past Ann-Renée Desbiens just 2:51 in for the early American lead. Penalty trouble would then plague Canada early, and by the 11-minute mark of the first, Hilary Knight and Megan Keller had buried goals past Desbiens for a quick 3-0 lead. Rebecca Johnston was able to pull Canada closer with a power play backhander past U.S. keeper Jessie Vetter just two minutes later, only to have Anne Schleper put the Americans back up by three after a wrister from the point squeaked through Desbiens’ five-hole and in. Marie-Philip Poulin was able to cut the deficit to 4-2 after a brutal turnover at the USA blueline, but the Canadians entered first intermission being outshot 20-7.
With Geneviève Lacasse taking over for Desbiens to start the second period, it didn’t appear that the change would help Canada’s fortunes at all, as Haley Skarupa put things at 5-2 early in the second on a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play that Dani Cameranesi started behind the goal, on a feed from Hannah Brandt behind the goal line. But suddenly, echoes of Sochi began to ring throughout the Malmö Isstadion as Canada mounted a furious comeback, scoring three goals in just 2:03. First it was Brigette Lacquette, blasting a bouncing pass to the point through Jessie Vetter, playing far out of her crease, to put the score at 5-3. Poulin then pounced on a Vetter misplay behind her net, feeding a streaking Rebecca Johnston in front for the fourth goal just 1:38 later. Despite pulling Vetter in favour of Alex Rigsby after these quick goals, Caroline Ouellette, playing her final game in a Canada jersey, needed just 25 seconds to redirect another Lacquette point shot through the five-hole to tie the game at 5-5. Reversing the first period trend, Canada outshot the U.S. 12-6 on the frame.
With a clean slate for both sides going into the third, both squads began to play very reserved, defensive games, awaiting the first team to make a mistake in order to capitalize. And that first defensive miscue came midway through the frame, as a seemingly innocuous pass from Coyne suddenly sprung Knight and Decker on a 2-on-1, and with Lacasse covering Knight, the tournament’s leading scorer, Decker had a wide open cage to bury the last-second pass from Knight for the 6-5 lead. And despite a glorious Bailey Bram breakaway chance to tie the game, penalty troubles came back to haunt the Canadians, and with Tara Watchorn in the box, Coyne put the U.S. at 3-4 on the night with the man advantage, wrapping around from behind the net and rifling a low wrister from the top of the slot past Lacasse for the 7-5 lead. While Lacquette again squandered a breakaway chance towards the end of the game, late penalties stopped any attempt at a second comeback, sealing the victory for the United States.
With the victory, the United States, in the midst of their 28th International Hockey Lineal Championship reign that began with their tournament opening 4-2 win over Canada, becomes the first team under the new World Championship format to go a perfect 5-0 en route to Gold. This bucks the trend over the past three World Championships where Canada and the Americans have played twice in the tournament, as each instance featured the losing team in the opener going on to win Gold. And while Canada certainly fought to make it four in a row, the potent American offense made sure to change history.
The Americans, who defeated Finland and Russia in the Preliminary Round, and Russia again in the Semifinal, wins their sixth World Championship Gold, their second straight title and fifth in six years – for more, check out the IHLC @ IIHF World Championships page.. This marked the 16th straight Gold Medal Game between the U.S. and Canada for the title, and the 124th IHLC showdown between these bitter rivals, in the highest-scoring matchup between these two in history, topping both the American 9-2 victory at the 2012 Worlds and 7-4 win at the Nagano Olympics. The Americans now enter the offseason with the IHLC, set to pick up again in the fall.
02:51 – GOAL – Pankowski (Anderson, Trivigno)
05:52 – PEN – Wakefield, body checking
06:38 – PP GOAL – Knight (M. Lamoureux)
09:56 – PEN – Jenner, hooking
10:59 – PP GOAL – Keller (Duggan, J. Lamoureux)
12:17 – PEN – Schleper, tripping
12:25 – PP GOAL – Johnston (Jenner, Lacquette)
17:08 – GOAL – Schleper (M. Lamoureux, Cameranesi)
17:47 – GOAL – Poulin
24:59 – PEN – Rougeau, delay of game
27:33 – GOAL – Skarupa (Brandt, Cameranesi)
30:03 – GOAL – Lacquette (Ouellette)
31:41 – GOAL – Johnston (Poulin)
32:06 – GOAL – Ouellette (Lacquette)
43:44 – PEN – Keller, body checking
51:42 – GOAL – Decker (Knight, Coyne)
52:33 – PEN – Watchorn, hooking
53:18 – PP GOAL – Coyne
55:43 – PEN – Birchard, boarding
59:49 – PEN – Knight, delay of game
W: Vetter (9-13), Rigsby (13-14)
L: Desbiens (16-20), Lacasse (13-16)
SHOTS ON GOAL
20+6+10 = 36
7+12+8 = 27
Goaltenders: Alex Rigsby, Jessie Vetter. Defence: Kacey Bellamy, 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 (A), Meghan Duggan (C), Zoe Hickel, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Annie Pankowski, Haley Skarupa, Dana Trivigno.
Goaltenders: Ann-Renée Desbiens, Geneviève Lacasse. Defence: Courtney Birchard, Laura Fortino, Halli Krzyzaniak, Brigette Lacquette, Jocelyne Larocque, Lauriane Rougeau (A), Tara Watchorn. Forwards: Bailey Bram, Jessica Campbell, Emily Clark, Sarah Davis, Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Johnston (A), Caroline Ouellette, Marie-Philip Poulin (C), Jamie Lee Rattray, Jillian Saulnier, Natalie Spooner, Kelly Terry, Jennifer Wakefield.