Living the American dream
Living the American dream
Decker gets golden goal as U.S. outlasts Canada
With 8:18 left, Kendall Coyne raced down left wing and headmanned the puck to Hilary Knight, who raced in on a 2-on-1 and slid the puck across to Decker to tap into the open side.
Just 1:36 later, Coyne circled the Canadian net on the power and flung a wrister on net that eluded goalie Genevieve Lacasse on the glove side, giving the Americans some breathing room at 7-5.
Put simply, there has never been another final quite as crazy as this in tournament history. Entertainment-wise, it was another landmark for women’s hockey.
"It was definitely a back-and-forth game," said Knight. "I’m sure the fans loved it. And obviously you can come out with a smile on your face if you played hard and you come out with a win."
The two North American archrivals combined for the highest number of total goals ever scored in a World Women’s Championship final (12). The previous record (9) was set in 1994 (6-3 Canada) and 2012 (5-4 Canada).
The U.S. took a 4-2 lead in the first period, but with its trademark never-say-die attitude, Canada roared back to tie it up at 5-5 in the second.
"Obviously we came out with a hot stick, but we were tested, and we knew how to respond," said Decker.
The 2015 tournament motto is “Passion in the Game,” and the U.S. showed both passion and skill en route to defending its title from Ottawa 2013. But it certainly wasn’t a coach’s dream in terms of defence.
Coach Ken Klee came through big in his Women's Worlds debut. The 934-game NHLer and two-time IIHF World Championship participant led his charges to a perfect record with five straight wins.
"I think it’s a big relief and a big accomplishment for our girls to battle back in a game where you’re up and then it gets tied up again, to still find a way to get it done," said Klee.
The Americans have now won five out of the last six Women’s Worlds. It was the sixteenth straight meeting between these two rivals in the World Women’s Championship final.
"We haven’t been as successful in the World Championships," said Canadian coach Doug Derraugh. "It's something we’ll definitely have to look at and plan better and figure out what is causing us to get behind the U.S. in these events."
Knight, Anne Pankowski, Megan Keller, Anne Schleper, and Haley Skarupa had the other goals for the United States, and Monique Lamoureux and Danielle Cameranesi added two assists apiece.
Knight was named tournament MVP and Best Forward, and earned a media all-star berth as she won the overall scoring title (7-5-12). Decker and Monique Lamoureux joined her as all-stars.
"Personally, it was really easy because I was playing with Brianna Decker and Kendall Coyne," said Knight. "How do you not perform the way I performed with at this tournament with those guys? Huge hats off to my linemates. They’re phenomenal players."
Rebecca Johnston scored twice for Canada, while Brigette Ouellette had a goal and two assists, and Marie-Philip Poulin and Caroline Ouellette added a goal and a helper apiece.
"We just weren’t able to execute great plays and create good scoring chances," said Ouellette, who captained the golden Sochi squad last year. "That’s what the U.S. did. Their power play was deadly again, and that was the difference tonight."
For Knight, U.S. starting goalie Jessie Vetter, captain Meghan Duggan, and Kacey Bellamy, it was their fifth Women’s World gold, equalling Julie Chu’s American record.
Particularly for the 13 U.S. Olympians returning from Sochi, this was sweet revenge for their heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Canada in the final.
"It’s a huge win," said Knight. "We had the hump on our back, the monkey on our back from Sochi. It didn’t feel good. We worked hard all year, all summer long, even during the year, and we came out with a win."
Ann-Renee Desbiens, a Women’s Worlds debutante, got the start in goal for Canada after posting two shutouts against Russia and Finland. However, she was yanked after surrendering four goals in the opening 20 minutes.
The Americans grabbed a 1-0 edge just 2:51 into the game. Following some aggressive forechecking. Stephanie Anderson set up Dana Trivigno for a chance from the slot and Pankowski buried the rebound. The goal ended Desbiens’s tournament shutout streak at 122:51.
The U.S. got the game’s first power play when Jennifer Wakefield was sent off for an illegal hit behind the Canadian net on Danielle Cameranesi, and they didn’t waste much time.
Monique Lamoureux controlled the puck beautifully, cutting left to right, and then sending the puck across her body to Knight, who converted it from the left faceoff circle at 6:38. It was her tournament-leading seventh goal and eleventh point.
The lethal American power play struck again at 10:59 when a pinching Keller bulled her way into the crease and shoveled in a Meghan Duggan rebound for a 3-0 lead.
At this point, in terms of national symbols, it was eagles preying on beavers. The Canadians needed to wake up fast, or this was in danger of turning into a rout like the U.S.’s 9-2 round-robin win in Burlington, Vermont in 2012.
And they did wake up.
The Canadians got some life at 12:25 when Johnston executed a lovely play on their first power play. Taking a pass from Laura Fortino at the point, she pirouetted to put her back to the U.S. goalie, and then slid the puck through blueliner Emily Pfalzer’s legs and inside the post to make it 3-1.
The momentum swung right back to the U.S. with 2:52 left in the first when Schleper beat Desbiens on the short side on a play the Canadian netminder would like to have had back.
Canada had a quick answer. Poulin cut the deficit to 4-2 just 39 seconds later when she capitalized on a turnover inside the U.S. blue line, came in, and used blueliner Michelle Picard as a screen to beat Vetter with a stick-side wrister.
The U.S. outshot Canada 20-7 in the first period, and Lacasse took over between Canada’s pipes in the middle frame.
She had a golden debut for Canada at November’s 4 Nations Cup in Kamloops, site of the 2016 IIHF World Women’s Championship. Could she stop the bleeding?
It was 5-2 U.S. at 7:33 when a trio of youngsters combined on a magnificent passing play. Behind the goal line, Cameranesi sent the puck back to Hannah Brandt, and she found Skarupa unguarded in front for the lightning strike.
Canada still didn’t roll over. Just past the midway mark, Lacquette drove a slap shot through traffic past Vetter’s glove side to make it 5-3.
At 11:41, the Canadians got within one when Vetter misplayed the puck behind the net to Poulin, who centred it from the corner to Johnston in front. She made no mistake, and the Americans decided it was time to yank Vetter for youngster Alex Rigsby, who backstopped them to a 4-1 round-robin win over Finland.
The goaltending change didn’t pay immediate dividends for the Americans. Just 25 seconds later, Canada tied it up. Aggressive forechecking got the puck back to Lacquette at the right point, and she got it to the net for Ouellette to put in for the 5-5 goal. It was pandemonium among the Canadian fans at the Isstadion.
With the U.S. up 7-5 and under four minutes to play, Canada's Jocelyne Larocque got a shorthanded breakaway, but lost the puck when she tried to deke Rigsby.
The Canadians pulled their goalie at 18:12, and Knight took a delay-of-game minor for flipping the puck over the glass in her own end with 11 seconds left. But unlike Sochi, there would be no miraculous late rally for Canada.
"I guess I ended Sochi in the box and I ended today in the box, so not much changed, right?" Knight joked. "Except for the W."
"I think the heart that the girls put in was amazing," Poulin said. "Unfortunately, we came up short in the third period, which is too bad. But their hard work was awesome."
Canada's three best players of the tournament were named: Natalie Spooner, Caroline Ouellette and Brianne Jenner. For the U.S., it was Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker, and Kacey Bellamy.
Canada's Caroline Ouellette equalled the record for most World Women’s Championship medals (12) jointly held by Jayna Hefford and Hayley Wickenheiser (7 gold, 5 silver). However, Ouellette's total is 6 gold and 6 silver -- not the result the veteran Canadian was seeking.
"It’s never OK to lose," Ouellette said. "You know, they wanted it more than us. I’m sure that without wanting it, when you win at the Olympic Games, your summer after that is...you’re not as motivated to train as hard as you can to be the best you can be. A lot of players took a year off. We were missing some great players from the lineup, but so were they, so that’s not an excuse. I think that [the Americans] train with that attitude that they’re sick of losing, and they play with that confidence and that ‘I have nothing to lose’ attitude."
In 2016, Canada will look to regain its world crown from the Americans when it hosts the World Women's Championship in Kamloops. The countdown is already on.
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