The ways in which these Gold Medal meetings between Canada and Team USA can manage to differ from each other in terms of intensity and excitement always seems to be a challenge, but these two bitter rivals always manage to find a way to make it work.
For the 2017 World Championships, it was yet another overtime tilt, but this time it was the heroics of star forward Hilary Knight, on home ice, providing the drama in the form of the winning goal, giving the Americans their eighth World title, and allowing them to retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
Unlike the opening tilt between these two, Canada made sure to strike early, and it was speedy forward Meghan Agosta making good on this requirement just 61 seconds into the game, zipping in a Jennifer Wakefield feed top corner over U.S. goalie Nicole Hensley on a 2-on-1 to rile up the Canadian contingent of the crowd in the border city of Plymouth. But the Americans would strike back three and a half minutes later, with defender Kacey Bellamy blasting in a point shot off a faceoff through traffic and past goalie Shannon Szabados, evening the score at 1-1.
With the early strikes out of the way, both teams settled in for a more disciplined, defensive game, with Szabados and Hensley both remaining sharp, turning aside two and three penalty kills each during the first two periods. After forty minutes, the Canadians led in shots 20-17, but the score was still tied 1-1 into the final frame.
If Bellamy seemed like an unlikely scorer from the blueline, her second strike 42 seconds into the third was even unlikelier, as she banged in a drop pass from Hilary Knight while roving in front of the goal, well out of her position, past Szabados to take the first U.S. lead of the game, delighting the packed crowd at USA Hockey Arena. The lead would hold for exactly 9:02, where a controversial Brianne Jenner goal, a one-timer from Marie-Philip Poulin that required referee review, tied things at 2-2, and meant for the second straight Gold Medal Game, the Gold would be decided in overtime.
Overtime was a spirited affair, as expected, and Canada avoided early penalty trouble by successfully killing off a Wakefield interference call. But the trio of Knight, Kendall Coyne and Brianna Decker, who have terrorized opponents for years, would strike again, this time for good, when a drop pass from Coyne on a 3-on-2 rush landed on Knight’s stick, which she blasted from the hash marks, over Szabados’ blocker side, sending the U.S. to victory, just a week over their monumental victory over USA Hockey for equal treatment, sending the team and arena into a frenzy.
With the victory, the Americans complete a perfect run with the International Hockey Lineal Championship, their thirtieth title, at the 2017 World Championships, winning the title from Canada in the opener, and retaining against Russia, Finland and Germany en route to the final. This marks the 18th consecutive Gold Medal final between Canada and the U.S., with the Americans winning their fourth straight Gold Medal, eighth overall, and first ever on home soil. The U.S. now enters the off-season with the IHLC, awaiting their next opponent, likely to be at November’s Four Nations Cup.
01:01 – GOAL – Agosta (Wakefield)
02:00 – PEN – Marvin, tripping
04:34 – GOAL – Bellamy (Coyne, Decker)
06:49 – PEN – J. Lamoureux, roughing
15:32 – PEN – Fortino, high sticking
24:18 – PEN – J. Lamoureux, slashing
28:03 – PEN – J. Lamoureux, tripping
33:32 – PEN – Mikkelson, hooking
40:42 – GOAL – Bellamy (Knight, Decker)
49:20 – PEN – Decker, hooking
49:44 – PP GOAL – Jenner
52:36 – PEN – Stacey, tripping
57:36 – PEN – Larocque, tripping
62:00 – PEN – Wakefield, interference
70:17 – GOAL – Knight (Coyne)
W: Hensley (28-30)
L: Szabados (37-40)
SHOTS ON GOAL
11+6+15+8 = 40
10+10+6+4 = 30
Goaltenders: Nicole Hensley, Alex Rigsby. Defence: Kacey Bellamy (A), Megan Bozek, Kali Flanagan, Megan Keller, Monique Lamoureux (A), Emily Pfalzer, Lee Stecklein. Forwards: Hannah Brandt, Alex Carpenter, Kendall Coyne, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan (C), Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Gigi Marvin, Kelly Pannek, Amanda Pelkey, Haley Skarupa, Kelli Stack.
Goaltenders: Geneviève Lacasse, Shannon Szabados. Defence: Erin Ambrose, Renata Fast, Laura Fortino, Halli Krzyzaniak, Jocelyne Larocque, Meaghan Mikkelson, Lauriane Rougeau. Forwards: Meghan Agosta, Bailey Bram, Emily Clark, Sarah Davis, Haley Irwin (A), Brianne Jenner (A), Rebecca Johnston, Sarah Potomak, Marie-Philip Poulin (C), Natalie Spooner, Laura Stacey, Blayre Turnbull, Jennifer Wakefield.