BURLINGTON – Caroline Ouellette knocked in her second goal of the game at 1:50 of overtime to give Canada a 5-4 win and the gold medal at the Women's World Championship. It was another epic battle between the two superpowers of women's hockey.
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"Tessa Bonhomme was in front of the goalie and I screamed to Meghan [Agosta] for the puck. Yes, I can take credit for scoring, but Tessa made it happen by going to the net and taking everyone with her," Ouellette said. "I just had to shoot. It was incredible."
The play was set up by a fortuitous turnover collected by Agosta just inside the U.S. blue line and a shot through traffic. "That was the message from the coach," Ouellette continued. "Any shot is a good shot. I'll take it."
It was a game controlled by special teams during regulation. The Americans had three power-play goals while Canada had two and a short-handed goal.
The victory is the first for Canada at the Women's Worlds since 2007 and ends the terrific run of three in a row by the U.S. "We were really sick of silver," said Ouellette.
"The losses of the previous years were really weighing on us," captain Hayley Wickenheiser admitted. "None of us wanted to see that happen again. We stayed positive the whole game."
The win was especially satisfying for the Canadians given they were humiliated 9-2 on the opening day of the tournament. "We wanted to make sure we were more prepared," she said. "That game kept us on our toes."
"Hats off to Canada," said Hilary Knight. "They put the puck in the net at the end of the game." Knight had the OT winner a year ago for the U.S.
The first period was as tense and thrilling as any these teams have played, but what a difference a week makes. On opening night, the Americans had a 5-0 lead and chased the goalie by the five-minute mark. Tonight, the Americans didn’t even register their first shot on goal until after the seven-minute mark, by which time Canada had a 1-0 lead.
That lead came on a great effort by Hayley Wickenheiser during a U.S. power play. She blocked a point shot, controlled the puck, and roared down the ice, beating Molly Schaus with the shot. The goal seemed to shake up the American bench, and the home side dominated much of the rest of the period.
Canada ran into penalty trouble, earning four of the five minors handed out in the period which resulted in power plays. The Americans tied the game at 12:54 thanks to some great puck possession by Kendall Coyne and Amanda Kessel in the Canada end. Coyne banged the puck home with Shannon Szabados down and out, lifting the pro-American crowd out of their seats en masse.
Although the period ended 1-1, Szabados made the save of the tournament with just seconds left on the clock. The puck came out one side to the back where Coyne one-timed it towards an open cage, but the goalie shot her left pad out and kicked the puck clear, denying a sure goal.
The first 20 minutes was only brief prelude to a wild second period. Canada took the lead at 4:07 when Jayna Hefford banged in a loose puck on a power play, and a minute and a half later the visitors doubled the lead thanks to a great play by Caroline Ouellette. She drove to the net with the puck, took a shot and then got her own rebound, knocking the puck in.
At this point, the crowd was silent, dumbfounded by the reversal of fortunes from the first game, an easy 9-2 win for the U.S. The play grew in intensity and became physical, along the boards and in front of the net. Scrums ensued, and the bad blood between the two nations couldn’t be more evident.
But whereas the Americans kept their cool, the Canadians collapsed, taking three straight penalties in the latter half of the period. The U.S. pounced. Brianna Decker’s shot through traffic beat Szabados to make it 3-2, and then a minute and a half later Gigi Marvin deflected a point shot on another power play. The impressive lead Canada had carefully built up was now gone, along with any momentum and crowd control.
Penalties cost Canada again early in the third when Marvin got the puck to squirt over the goal line and give the U.S. another lead, 4-3. That goal looked to be the winner, but with 2:38 to go, Canada, with a man advantage of its own, tied the game on a goal from Agosta.
That set the stage for Ouellette's OT heroics.
"It was a great game, a physical game. Both teams showed up ready to play and gave the crowd a great game," Jenny Potter said.
NOTES: The All-Star Team consisted of Florence Schelling (SUI, goal), Gigi Marvin (USA) and Laura Fortino (CAN) on defence, and forwards Monique Lamoureux-Kolls (USA), Kelli Stack (USA), and Hayley Wickenheiser (CAN)...the Directorate Awards went to Schelling, Jenni Hiirikoski (FIN, defence), and Stack...the event set an attendance record for Women's Worlds held in the U.S. Total attendance was 26,205 for an average of 1,247 over the 21 games.