USA – Canada 0 – 3 (0 – 2, 0 – 0, 0 – 1) Game Sheet, Photos
In the fifth championship clash between the world’s top two teams in U18 women’s hockey, Canada achieved what few teams in the short history of the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship have ever done, shutting out the vaunted American offence en route to a 3-0 victory and a gold medal.
The Canadians' assignment was not an easy one. The United States tore through Group A, outscoring their opponents 28-1. Last year in Stockholm, the Americans beat Canada soundly 5-2, winning their third U18 championship, each one of which came at the expense of their northern neighbour.
But thanks to a fantastic defensive performance and stellar goaltending from Emerance Maschmeyer, Canada stifled the American offence through three periods and converted their own opportunities to win their second-ever IIHF U18 women’s championship gold medal. Maschmeyer credited the victory to her teammates, pointing to Canada’s chemistry as the key to their success.
“Through the tournament we just came together, no one was singled out as being the key person to score goals or whatever, we were each made responsible for our success,” she said.
“By the time we played in this game we were like a family, and I think it showed on the ice today.”
Early miscues put the Americans in a 2-0 hole in the first period. US netminder Brianna Laing mishandled a long shot from Taylor Woods, giving up the puck in front to Alexis Crossley, who shot it over Laing for the 1-0 lead in front of a delighted pro-Canadian crowd at PSG Arena.
Canada’s second goal came with a US player in the penalty box. Forward Sarah Lefort got the puck on the side of the net, skated into position and roofed it over a sprawled Laing. The Canadians had a golden opportunity to increase their lead on a breakaway late in the period, but Laing made a great save that kept her team in the game.
Facing a deficit for the first time in the tournament, the Americans were galvanized into putting more pressure on Canadian goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer. Playing against a team that featured four of the tournament’s top five scorers, the Canadians succeeded in limiting the number of quality scoring chances for the US, skating hard back to their zone defend and keeping the Americans busy in their own end with an effective fore check.
“We knew they were a great team, but we focused on our game plan and came out flying in the first period,” said Maschmeyer. “Fortunately we got those early goals and managed to battle hard the rest of the way.”
The third period began with much of the same, as Canada continued to clog up the US attack up the middle of the ice. The few shots that the US were able to muster were easily corralled by Maschmeyer. A slashing penalty on the US’ Paige Savage was the nail in the coffin, as Cydney Roesler got the puck on the power play and fired it from the point past Laing for the 3-0 lead.
As time ran out, Canadian gloves went up in the air as the Czech crowd broke out in applause for the 2012 gold medal winners.
“It’s an unreal feeling, I just can’t believe it,” said Maschmeyer, who was chosen as Canada's Best Player and got the shutout win with her father watching from the stands. “Definitely none of us are gonna sleep tonight or on the plane ride home.”
Today’s result shaved the US total gold medal lead to one, with 3 out of five world championships to Canada's two. The way these two teams have played, going head to head in every single championship since the tournament’s inception, next year’s edition should offer even more fireworks should they meet yet again.
For now though, the maple leaf rules the day.
NOTES: Following the game, the IIHF Directorate selected Franziska Albl of Germany as the tournament's top goalie. Canada's Erin Ambrose was voted the Best Defenseman and the USA's Alex Carpenter was voted Best Forward.