Americans had won five straight titles

Author of the article:

Rita Mingo, Special to Toronto Sun

Team Canada beats Team USA in overtime action during the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship Gold medal game at the Winsport arena in Calgary on Tuesday, August 31, 2021.
Team Canada beats Team USA in overtime action during the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship Gold medal game at the Winsport arena in Calgary on Tuesday, August 31, 2021. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /Postmedia Network

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CALGARY – And snap, just like that, Canada’s gold-medal drought has ended.

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Marie-Philip Poulin snapped a shot off the goalpost into the net at 7:32 of overtime, on a play that was being reviewed as play continued, to give Canada a 3-2 victory over Team USA in the final of the 2021 IIHF women’s world hockey championship.

The victory also snaps the U.S.’s five-straight domination.

The bronze medal was awarded to Finland thanks to their 3-1 victory over Switzerland.

Canada has now won 11 world titles to the U.S.’s nine.

Many will view it as a dress rehearsal for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, scheduled for Beijing in February. But for the two teams on the WinSport ice on Tuesday evening, that wasn’t even a consideration.

The question everyone had was how different would the U.S. look from their round-robin drubbing by Canada, a 5-1 decision. The answer was quickly answered. Night and day.

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Defensive play was the focal point early on in the game. Neither team was allowed to sustain pressure in the opposition zone, the shots few and far between as were scoring opportunities.

The U.S. attempted to establish a net presence and eventually it paid off.

While Canada had a slight advantage in shots midway through the first period, it was the Americans who struck first. Alex Carpenter was allowed to plant herself in front of Ann-Renee Desbiens’ net and she whacked her own rebound past the Canadian goaltender at 9:55.

At 12:35, with Jocelyne Larocque sitting in the box after a kneeing infraction, Lee Stecklein tore a shot toward the Canada net and Carpenter pounced on the rebound for her second goal.

The closest Canada came to scoring in the first was a blast by Rebecca Johnston that rang off the post. The U. S. players were on their Canadian counterparts quickly, and thus we saw more giveaways by the latter than we have all tournament long.

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A stern talking-to was in order between periods and obviously heeded.

Canada made good on a powerplay of their own at 4:13 of the second, Brianne Jenner taking a page out of Carpenter’s playbook and scoring on Nicole Hensley’s doorstep. Then two minutes later, Jamie Lee Rattray deflected a hard shot by Larocque into the net for the deadlock.

The American ran afoul of the law three times in the second and Canada was dangerous on all three man-advantage tries, scoring on the one.

The U.S., meanwhile, got away from their game plan, that tenacious forecheck which served them so well in the first. Hensley was brilliant in the U.S. net, as 16 often difficult shots came her way.

Canada had a handful of penalties to kill off in the evenly-matched third and Desbiens was sharp, holding the fort as her teammates waited for a break the other way. But none came.

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Team Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin battles Team USA’s goalie Nicole Hensley in third-period action during the 2021 IIHF women’s world championship gold-medal game at the Winsport arena in Calgary on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia Network
Team Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin battles Team USA’s goalie Nicole Hensley in third-period action during the 2021 IIHF women’s world championship gold-medal game at the Winsport arena in Calgary on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia Network

The edge in the bronze medal game had to go to the Finns, the 2019 silver medalists. Two of the best goaltenders in this world tournament stood at opposite ends of the ice – Finland’s Anni Keisala and Switzerland’s Saskia Maurer. Keisala let just one of 19 shots get by her, while Maurer faced 32.

The Finns took a 2-0 lead, both goals coming early in each of the first and second periods with Tanja Niskanen and Ella Viitasuo drawing blood. Swiss captain Lara Stalder got her team on the scoreboard at 7:36 of the second and it was a contest once again.

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Late in the second, three seconds into a Swiss penalty, Petra Nieminen — one of the most lethal forwards over the entire event — tipped in a point shot to give the Finns a two-goal margin.

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The Swiss worked on their attack in the third, getting a handful of good chances, but in the end the Finns were bigger, faster and more talented.

It was Finland’s 13th bronze medal, cementing its claim as the third-best nation in women’s hockey. Switzerland had to be extremely pleased with the fourth-place finish, their best since 2012, when they were third.

  1. Canada’s Jamie Rattray celebrates after her teammate Marie-Philip Poulin scored against Finland at the IIHF women’s world championship Group A match played at WinSport Arena in Calgary last night.

    Canada rallies to beat Finland at women’s world hockey championship opener

  2. Czech Republic goaltender Klara Peslarova, picturing making a save off Finland’s Venla Hovi during the 2016 IIHF women’s world championship in Kamloops, B.C., stopped 24 shots to earn the shutout in a 4-0 win over Japan during the 2021 tournament in Calgary.

    Czech Republic remains undefeated at worlds in quest to take next step in women’s hockey

In the fifth-place game, ROC (Russian Olympic Committee) blanked Japan 2-0 on goals by Valeria Pavlova and Viktoria Kulishova.

On a very positive note for all countries participating at these worlds, the IIHF announced that after the last round of testing “all 3,322 PCR tests conducted in the Calgary bubble have been negative and teams can travel to their home countries tomorrow (Wednesday)”.

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