ZLIN, Czech Republic -- Grace Zumwinkle (Excelsior, Minn.) netted the game-winner with 2:32 to play and Alex Gulstene (Evanston, Ill.) made 27 saves as the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 Team topped Canada, 3-1, here today in the gold-medal game at the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women’s World Championship.
"I'm incredibly proud of this group of girls for all of their hard work and dedication," said Joel Johnson, head coach of the U.S. Women's National Under-18 Team. “They deserved this impressive accomplishment and will have this golden memory forever.”
The victory gives Team USA its third consecutive gold medal at the IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championship, and sixth title in the first 10 years of the event. The U.S also claimed gold in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2016.
Gulstene made 12 saves in the opening frame, including a pair of point-blank stops during a net-front scramble with just over seven minutes left in the period, to keep the game scoreless entering the first intermission.
Delaney Drake (Traverse City, Mich.) opened the scoring 5:56 into the second stanza on Team USA’s first power-play opportunity of the game. Clair DeGeorge (Anchorage, Alaska) passed the puck down low for Drake, who beat Canadian goaltender Danika Ranger with a sharp-angled shot at the goal-line for the score.
The U.S. killed off a pair of Canadian power-play opportunities in the final 10:12 of the middle frame to hold a one-goal lead after 40 minutes.
Canada looked to have tied the game 5:25 into the final period, but the goal was disallowed after goaltender interference was ruled on the play.
Daryl Watts netted the equalizer for Canada on a power-play goal from the slot with 6:17 remaining in regulation.
Zumwinkle scored the game-winning goal with just 2:32 to play when she netted a rebound on a two-on-one rush off a slap shot by DeGeorge.
Team USA was whistled for tripping with 1:59 left in regulation, but Emily Oden (Edina, Minn.) sealed the victory for the U.S. with an empty-net goal with five seconds remaining.
Gulstene finished with 27 saves, including nine in the final period.
For complete game statistics, click here.
NOTES: Grace Zumwinkle was named U.S. Player of the Game … The Directorate Award was presented to Cayla Barnes for Best Defenseman in the tournament … Barnes, Alex Gulstene and Natalie Heising were named Team USA's top players of the tournament ... Team USA was outshot by Canada 28-22 while finishing 1-for-3 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill … The U.S. and Canada have gone head-to-head in the gold-medal game at the IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championship every year since the tournament began in 2008. Team USA now holds a 3-3-2-2 (W-OTW-OTL-L) advantage in those contests … For complete coverage of Team USA at the 2017 IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championship, click here.