Pure gold for America
U.S. wins third straight world title in OT
Carpenter popped the puck behind Canadian goalie Emerance Maschmeyer in a wild goalmouth scramble. The goal came just after a 4-on-3 U.S. power play had expired, with defender Halli Krzyzaniak off for holding. The Americans killed off two Canadian 4-on-3's in overtime.
Of her goal, Carpenter said: "The building just got pretty quiet. I wasn’t really sure if it went in. But I was right there – I watched myself put it in. I wasn’t sure if [Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson’s] original shot went in. But regardless, it went in and that’s what counted."
It was the 17th straight final between the North American superpowers, dating back to the first Women’s Worlds in Ottawa in 1990. Contested in front of 5,850 fans at a sold-out Sandman Centre in Kamloops, Canada, it was also another thrilling showcase for women's hockey: speed, finesse, playmaking, guts, and excitement.
"I'm so proud of our players and how hard we competed from start to finish," said U.S. head coach Ken Klee.
Showing its dominance, the U.S. has now won seven out of the last nine tournaments.
"It’s always exciting to win a World Championship, but to win it against your archrivals in their building just makes it that much sweeter," said U.S. captain Megan Duggan.
"It really hurts," said Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin. "Every time you work so hard for something and you get silver, that’s hard."
This was heartbreak for the host nation, which settled for Women's Worlds silver for the third straight time. Canada's last gold was in 2012. However, Canada has won the last four Olympics, dating back to Salt Lake City in 2002.
This is a significant milestone on the road to the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, and the Americans can take heart from that after losing in overtime to Canada in Sochi in 2014.
The U.S.'s Alex Rigsby won the goaltending duel with Maschmeyer, but both of them were excellent. Shots favored the U.S. 34-32.
"It’s really frustrating because we played so well and our team deserved to win," said Maschmeyer, named the tournament's Best Goalkeeper. "But we didn’t get the bounces."
This tight battle was a whole different beast from the 2015 final, a wild 7-5 U.S. victory in Malmo. And even though it was low-scoring, it wasn't an argument for bigger nets or smaller goalie equipment. It was just an awesome hockey game.
The teams came out at a blistering pace, playing the first five minutes with no whistles. Canada’s Bailey Bram got the first good chance, nearly surprising Rigsby with a bad-angle shot. Then Jillian Saulnier busted down right wing, getting past U.S. defender Megan Keller, and took it hard to the net.
About six minutes into the second period, Meghan Agosta pivoted on the right-side boards and found a pinching Laura Fortino on the doorstep, forcing Rigsby to make a superb pad save.
"My main objective going into the game was just to make sure I took it one shot at a time," explained Rigsby. "Someone gave me that advice recently and it helped a ton."
Canada went back to the power play near the halfway mark when Brianna Decker was sent off for a hook on Saulnier. The U.S. got the best chance, though, as Alex Carpenter was stoned by Maschmeyer on her shorthanded breakaway.
Canada put the Americans under siege in their own zone to open the third. But after killing off a penalty to Duggan, the Americans went on the offensive on their own power play. Maschmeyer was sharp to deny a pair of hard Kacey Bellamy one-timers from the right faceoff circle.
The Canadians mounted one last rush in regulation, and Brianne Jenner came within a heartbeat of banging it in at the side of the net before the horn. But there was a payoff for the host nation, as Monique Lamoureux was dispatched to the sin bin for hooking at 19:52.
Agosta had two brilliant chances to finish it off during the first 4-on-3 power play in overtime, but couldn't finish. She put one past the post, while Rigsby got her blocker on the other. The U.S. goalie also came up big on a Poulin one-timer from the right faceoff circle.
The Canadians also failed to score with U.S. defender Lee Stecklein off for hooking seven minutes later. In all, the red-and-white team was 0-for-6 on the power play.
Of winning a third straight gold, Carpenter said: "I think it means we’re heading in the right direction as a program. We’re not really concerned with what other people are doing. We’re focused on where we’re going as a group."
This is the first time in history that both the gold medal game and the bronze medal game have finished 1-0. (Russia beat Finland 1-0 in a shootout for bronze earlier.) The last time a team won gold by that score was when Angela Ruggiero's shootout goal gave the U.S. its first title ever in 2005.
The U.S. will look to defend its world title at the 2017 IIHF Women's World Championship in Plymouth, Michigan.
"I’m sure those guys will be looking to get some revenge on us," said Duggan of Canada.
"I guarantee we’ll spend this entire summer and the entire next year training so that when we play them on their home turf, we’ll be ready," said Canada's Meaghan Mikkelson.
USA vs. Canada (Gold)
Climaxing a tense final, Alex Carpenter scored at 12:30 of overtime as the U.S. beat Canada 1-0 to win gold at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship.