But it was a success, a huge success, a historic success.
It was thanks to a then world record crowd of 8,784 at Ottawa’s Civic Centre. It was thanks to a great game played by the Americans and Canadians. It was thanks to incredible newspaper coverage by the Ottawa Citizen, and TV coverage by TSN, which showed four of Canada’s games including the gold medal game to huge ratings across the country.
And it was thanks to Geraldine Heaney, who proved women can score highlight-reel goals just like the men.
Before the gold medal game, U.S. head coach Don MacLeod read a letter from President George Bush: “The American people will be rooting for another Miracle on Ice,” it stated in part.
Buoyed by the event’s success, tournament director Pat Reid guaranteed that, “We won’t have to talk about pink uniforms anymore to get people out to see women’s hockey.”
Much to the dismay of the home crowd, the Americans jumped out to a 2-0 lead. But Canada tied the game with two goals late in the opening 20 minutes. The second period was nerve-wrecking, but a sensational late goal put Canada ahead.
Heaney always considered herself a rushing defenceman, so when she saw a loose puck in centre ice, she shot up to the attack. France St-Louis got the puck to her while falling, a phenomenal pass, and Heaney deked Lauren Apollo just inside the U.S. blue line in posterizing fashion. Heaney went in on goal, and just when goalie Kelly Dyer tried to pokecheck the puck, the Canadian roofed it into the top corner while falling over the goalie.
That is the highlight everyone sees to summarize 1990, and for good reason. Canada scored again midway through the third and added an empty-netter for a 5-2 win, but it wasn’t a 5-2 game. It was tense and thrilling and a great display of the skill and physicality of the women’s game (remember, in 1990 there was body-checking).
The game lives on in the memory and mind’s eye. People saw the great Shirley Cameron play in her only Women’s Worlds. Not many knew what an incredible scorer Cindy Curley was until this event. Cammi Granato played, as did France St-Louis. The famous photo of the pint-sized Susana Yuen being held aloft while holding the championship plate is also part of the memory bank, as is the near sellout crowd, many in pink, everyone cheering this new thing called women’s hockey.
Canadian coach Dave McMaster asked rhetorically after the game: “How are they going to keep us out of the Olympics now after what happened here?”
Answer: They’re not.
30 years of Women's Worlds - 30 historic stories
- 1 – Women’s hockey established in 1990
- 2 – Women stand strong during tough year
- 3 – Canada 2007 – best team ever?
- 4 – James, Granato, Heaney inducted into IIHF Hall
- 5 – U.S. threatens boycott
- 6 – Finns close to gold, settle for silver
- 7 – Wickenheiser plays first game
- 8 – Poulin, Coyne make quick leap
- 9 – Hiirikoski named Best Defenceman
- 10 – Women’s Worlds heads to NHL arenas
- 11 – Sweden wins 2005 bronze to usher in golden era
- 12 – 1987 Women’s Worlds transformational
- 13 – Valila unretires after 12 years
- 14 – Canada wins 37th straight
- 15 – Swiss win first WW medal
- 16 – Granato retires top scorer
- 17 – Women’s Worlds goes to 10 teams
- 18 – USA finally breaks through
- 19 – Schelling plays 28th straight
- 20 – Russians use WW18 for WW success
- 21 – 1997 marks end of “early era”
- 22 – IIHF invests additional $2 million in women’s hockey
- 23 – Tomcikova named MVP
- 24 – Czechs move to the top
- 25 – “Saint Kim” a special goalie
- 26 – Guo first star from Far East
- 27 – Japan stuns Sweden in 2015
- 28 – Zorn first to skate and save
- 29 – Drolet dramatics matched by Knight magic
- 30 – Women only officials