BUDAPEST – It’s going to be Canada-USA Round No. 7 at the 2014 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship, as Team USA will face their North American rivals for the gold medal on Sunday. A power play goal from Rebecca Gilmore early in the third period was the go-ahead score for the Americans, who defeated the Czech Republic 3-1 in the semi-final. United States – Czech Republic 3-1 (1-0, 0-1, 2-0)
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Tied 1-1, the Czechs opened the third period on the penalty kill, and less than two minutes into the frame Rebecca Gilmore skated to the side of the net and snuck in a quick shot past netminder Klara Peslarova.
"Our team played really hard today," said USA captain Jincy Dunne. "Our forwards did a great job at just being relentless no matter where the puck was."
Then with just over ten minutes to go Mackenzie Kent scored a similar goal, coming in from the right side of the net this time and shooting the puck between Peslarova’s legs for the two-goal lead.
The Czechs drew a tough assignment in their semi-final game, facing off against the No. 1 seeded Americans who had scored a tournament-high 20 goals while allowing just one.
Heavy pressure by the U.S. forwards early in the game forced the Czechs into committing the game’s first penalty, a body-checking call on Dominika Laskova. A minute into the power play a point shot from defenceman Sydney Baldwin put the Americans in front 1-0.
Thanks to the efforts of Peslarova, the Czechs were able to get into the first intermission having only surrendered one goal despite being badly outshot 21-1.
Peslarova’s work in net paid off as her team finally struck pay dirt with 2:01 to go in the second period. Tereza Vanisova gained possession in the neutral zone and sent
Vendula Pribilova up the ice on a breakaway. Pribilova calmy beat U-S goaltender Kaitlin Burt with a wrist shot through the five-hole to tie the game up 1-1.
But the U.S. offence proved too much for the Czechs to overcome, although the result wasn't what they wanted, the team can hold its head high in what has been a great tournament for them when they battle Russia for bronze on Sunday.
For the USA, it's now time to battle their North American nemesis Canada once more for the Women's U18 gold. The last two years saw the team first get shut out in a 3-0 win for Canada in 2012, followed by a crushing 2-1 defeat in overtime last year.
"Obviously there was a lot of disappointment in how the game ended last year," said Baldwin, who was on the 2013 team. "In the end we had a couple of defensive zone breakdowns that resulted in a goal at a bad time. We've analyzed the game over and over again and we came out as better players from that so we're looking forward to tomorrow."