It was a busy, busy offseason with the bonus COVID year that players can utilize
After losing to the United States in four of the last five gold-medal games, Canada finally broke its nine-year slump with a 3-2 overtime victory in the 2021 IIHF Women's World Championships. To no surprise, it was captain Marie-Philip Poulin who scored the gold-medal winning goal in overtime, beating netminder Nicole Hensley to cap off a strong tournament performance by the Canadian squad.
With the World Championships complete, here are the final standings at the end of the tournament:
2. United States
7. Czech Republic
The All-Tournament Team, selected by media, consisted of:
- Goaltender Anni Keisala (FIN)
- Defender Lee Stecklein (USA)
- Defender Erin Ambrose (CAN)
- Forward Mélodie Daoust (CAN)
- Petra Nieminen (FIN)
- Natalie Spooner (CAN)
Daoust was also named MVP of the tournament. Keisala and Stecklein joined her in winning directorate awards.
Canada Wins Gold in OT
Any game between the American and Canadian national teams is bound to be an interesting one, but there's nothing that can quite match the energy of a gold-medal game between the two countries. Tuesday evening's game was no different, filled with highs and lows for both teams and resulting in a long-awaited Canadian victory at Worlds.
The United States played a strong first period against an uncharacteristically lackadaisical Canadian team. Midway through the opening frame, Alex Carpenter scored off her own rebound in front of the net to put the Americans up 1-0.
When the US found itself on the power play a few short minutes later, Carpenter wasted no time capitalizing once again. The team sustained pressure in front of the net, and Carpenter found a loose puck in front after a point shot from (who else?) Lee Stecklein.
Just like that, shockingly, Canada found itself heading into the intermission down by a pair – just the second time all tournament that the Canadians were down by a goal, or more. Not surprisingly, they clearly weren't happy with their first-period performance, and came into the second period with renewed energy.
When the United States took a delay of game penalty just 3:07 into the second period, the Canadians quickly capitalized. Brianne Jenner pounced on a bouncing puck in front of the net, scooping it into the goal on the left side of Nicole Hensley.
Jamie Lee Rattray tied the game 2:29 later, tipping a shot from Jocelyne Larocque at the blue line. Just like that, it was a completely new game. Canada had all the momentum after scoring twice and tying the game, and they outshot the Americans by a margin of 16-8 in the second period.
Both teams had their chances in the third period, playing a more evenly matched game. The United States had a few power plays, but were ultimately unable to capitalize or get much going. Canada had its best chance with under three minutes to play, when Marie-Philip Poulin and Rattray nearly connected for the game-winning goal, but the puck hit the post.
3-on-3 overtime lasted 7:22 before Poulin scored the gold-medal winning goal. Both teams shortened their benches and each had a handful of chances, but overall, Canada seemed sharper. Poulin broke out of the neutral zone and carried the puck in one-on-one; she beat defender Megan Bozek and tucked the puck in under the crossbar for the win. Play continued, but the whistle eventually blew once the goal had been confirmed, sending Canada to their first gold medal victory since 2012.
The United States' player usage was certainly... interesting, for lack of a better phrase. Jincy Dunne and Abby Roque didn't see the ice at all during the gold medal game. Alex Carpenter played just 1:51 in overtime despite having two goals in the game. Caroline Harvey, Grace Zumwinkle, Hayley Scamurra, Cayla Barnes, Jesse Compher & Lacey Eden were all glued to the bench for overtime. While I appreciate that you want to put your best players out there in crunch time, shortening the bench that much in what could've been a much longer game seems questionable at best.
Hensley, with 29 saves on 32 shots, and Poulin, with the game-winning goal, were named players of the game. Mélodie Daoust was named the tournament's Best Forward, while Stecklein earned Best Defender. Anni Kiesala (Finland) earned Best Goaltender honors.
Daoust led all Canadian skaters with 12 points (6G, 6A), and Canadian forwards accounted for four of the top five scorers in the tournament. Stecklein led the Americans with seven points (2G, 5A) in as many games, while Hilary Knight and Grace Zumwinkle each recorded six points.
Finland Wins Bronze
Finland outworked a solid Swiss team en route to their 13th bronze medal at the Women's World Championships, beating them by a score of 3-1.
Tanja Niskanen, Ella Viitasuo and Petra Nieminen scored for Finland, while Anni Keisala stopped 18 of 19 shots faced to secure the victory for her team. Switzerland's fourth-place finish in this year's tournament marks their best finish since 2012, and just the third time since 1990 that they've finished in the top four.
Niskanen opened the scoring just 1:39 in, carrying the puck in from along the boards and scoring off a quick shot from the hashmarks to the left of netminder Saskia Maurer. Viitasuo doubled the lead in the second period with a shot from above the faceoff dot, sending the puck through a crowd and top-shelf into the goal.
Less than three minutes later, Switzerland finally got on the board with a goal from captain Lara Stalder. Stalder won a one-on-one battle and shot it high into the net to score what would be the lone goal for her team.
After the Swiss were unable to capitalize on a power play midway through the period, they then faced two separate penalties on team infractions for too many players on the ice. Although they killed off the first disadvantage, they weren't as fortunate the second time around; Nieminen made it 3-1 on a tip on the doorstep.
Already down by a pair and being outshot 26-14 heading into the third period, Switzerland was fighting an uphill battle in the final twenty minutes of play. An additional pair of penalty kills didn't help them, and in the end, Finland held strong for the victory and the medal.
Finnish captain and defender Jenni Hiirikoski played an astounding 30:58 in the bronze medal game. While Keisala finished with 18 saves on 19 shots, Maurer stopped 29 of 32 shots faced. Viitasuo was named player of the game for Finland, while Lisa Ruedi got the honor for Switzerland.
Overall in the tournament, Nieminen led her team with seven points (6G, 1A) in as many games. Swiss forward Phoebe Stänz led her team with three points (1G, 2A).
The USWNT has already announced the first two stops on its post-Worlds #MyWhyTour ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics. The United States and Canada will face off in exhibition games in Allentown, Pennsylvania on October 22 and Hartford, Connecticut on October 25. Additional games are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
Final qualification tournaments kick off on November 11 in Germany, the Czech Republic, and Sweden to determine which three teams will join China, the United States, Canada, Finland, the ROC, Switzerland, and Japan at the Beijing Olympics.
Filed under: 2021 iihf women's world championship; ice hockey; team usa; team canada; team finland; team switzerland
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