USA defeats Canada in women’s world hockey championship
OTTAWA – The United States reclaimed the women’s world hockey championship with a 3-2 win over Canada on Tuesday.
The Americans have won four of the last five world women’s titles.
Amanda Kessel roofed the winner on a 2-on-1 break at 3:09 of the third period. Canada pulled goaltender Shannon Szabados in the final seconds but couldn’t get the equalizer with the extra attacker.
The Canadians defeated the U.S. in overtime for gold in Burlington, Vt., last year and the U.S. turned the tables in 2013.
Brianna Decker and Megan Bozek also scored for the U.S., while goaltender Jessie Vetter needed to make only 14 saves for the win. Kendall Coyne added two assists.
Courtney Birchard and Caroline Ouellette replied for Canada in front of 13,776 at Scotiabank Place. Szabados was the busier goalie, stopping 27 of 30 shots in the loss.
Marie-Philip Poulin had two assists and led the tournament in scoring with six goals and six assists in five games. The 22-year-old from Beauceville, Que., was named the tournament’s most valuable player and top forward.
Since Canada’s 2-0 win over the U.S. to win Olympic gold in 2010, the teams have gone 8-8 against one another, with nine of those games decided by one goal.
The two countries have met in the finals of all 15 world championships held since 1990. Canada has won 10 times, but this was the fifth title for the Americans.
The two countries will face each other at least half a dozen times next winter when both teams are training full-time for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
A schedule of games between them has yet to be announced, but a Dec. 20 date in Grand Forks, N.D., has already been confirmed by USA Hockey.
The two countries are bitter rivals, but favorite opponents because they bring out the best in each other and make for the most entertaining games in female hockey.
Tuesday’s championship game was another tug-of-war. The Americans used their superior size on the blue-line to keep Canada to the outside and scored a pair of goals on odd-man rushes.
Kessel, the younger sister of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel, scored the winner on a two-on-one in the third.
Canada led 1-0 after the opening period, but the game was deadlocked 2-2 heading into the third when Ouellette skated out from boards and scored a power-play goal on a snapshot at 17:50 to tie it.
But it was the hosts in penalty trouble in the period’s midsection. With Rebecca Johnston and Hayley Wickenheiser serving minors, American defenceman Bozek scored on a one-timer at 14:26.
Decker tied the game 1-1 on an odd-man rush. She deked Szabdos and slid the puck by her at 2:23.
The Canadians killed off a pair of minors in the period. Time spent on the kill meant fewer shots on the U.S. net and the host country was outshot 24-10 after two.
Bichard’s heavy shot beat a screened Vetter as 9:50 for the only goal of the first period. Both teams had scoring chances and strong goaltending in the first period.
Szabados stopped an all-alone Decker after Canadian turnover in the neutral zone early in the period. Vetter dropped to her pads to stone Meghan Agosta-Marciano on her doorstep 14 minutes in. Canada’s Brianne Jenner hit Vetter’s right post eight minutes into the game.
The hosts were outshot 12-8 in the first period and weren’t able to turn 29 seconds of a two-man advantage late in the period into a second goal.
Canadian captain Hayley Wickenheiser was not at full health in the game. She injured her back in the first game of the tournament – a 3-2 shootout win over the Americans – and sat out the rest of the prelimimary round.
Earlier Tuesday, Russia defeated Finland 2-0 for bronze and that country’s second medal in tournament history after winning bronze in 2001. The Russian Ice Hockey Federation is finally putting resources into female hockey because they want the home team to win a medal in Sochi.
Former Ottawa Senators Alexei Yashin was appointed the team’s general manager in December.
Germany finished fifth and Switzerland sixth in Ottawa. Sweden, the Olympic silver medallist in 2006, avoided relegation by beating the Czech Republic in a three-game series.
There will not be a women’s world championship in 2014 because the International Ice Hockey Federation doesn’t hold a women’s tournament in an Olympic year. Sweden will host the 2015 world women’s championship. Canada will host it again in 2016 and 2020.
The field for the 2014 Olympics will include Canada, Japan, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, Germany and Japan.
The 2013 women’s world hockey championship sold about 150,000 tickets, but because they were sold in packages, actual attendance was just under 100,000, according to organizers.
The 2007 championship in Winnipeg set a tournament attendance record of 119,231 and generated a profit of $751,000 for Hockey Canada and Hockey Manitoba.
The world championship in Ottawa will make a profit of at least $500,000, according to host committee vice-chair Cyril Leeder, of which 25 per cent will go to women’s hockey in Ontario and the rest to Hockey Canada’s development programs.
© 2013 The Canadian Press