Hockey can be a notoriously unpredictable sport.
Yet as the IIHF Women’s World Championship unfolded this past week in Kamloops, British Columbia, it seemed destined to happen again for the U.S. Women’s National Team. In order to win the world title, Team USA would have to get past its old foe, Canada.
That indeed was the case on Monday night.
And for the seventh time, the U.S. women ended up on top with a gold medal. Forward Alex Carpenter scored 12:30 into overtime to give the Americans a 1-0 win at the Sandman Centre.
The rivalry between the two North American countries in this tournament has truly become epic. The game marked the 17th time Team USA and Canada played for the gold medal of the WWC; no other country has reached the title game since the tournament’s inception in 1990.
And it’s a rivalry that never gets old, according to Carpenter.
“It just becomes expected that we’re going to end up seeing them in the finals, and that’s what I think makes it great,” Carpenter said. “We’ve looking forward to it for weeks now — even more than that, months. I think that’s what drives our rivalry, we expect to win.”
Even though it was the third consecutive world title for Team USA, this win was different. It certainly wasn’t the 7-5 offensive slugfest of a year before in Malmo, Sweden. It wasn’t even the same game that was played in the preliminary round of this year’s tournament, which Team USA won 3-1.
It had an immense amount of offensive action but was played with stringent defense and top-notch goaltending from both teams that made it an epic defensive battle.
This title game was also well on its way to a shootout. The goaltenders — Emerance Maschmeyer of Canada and Team USA’s Alex Rigsby — were brick walls between the pipes. Rigsby earned the shutout with 32 saves. She was almost perfect in the tournament, allowing just one goal on 72 shots for a 0.31 goals-against average.
Though the U.S. women had twice the amount of penalties as Canada, the penalty kill came through in fine fashion — going a perfect six-for-six — though it did leave some scary moments for U.S. fans during the third period and early into overtime.
“They’ve been playing great all tournament,” Carpenter said. “It was all just backed up by Rigsby. It was just great all-around effort from the defense all the way up to the forwards.
“I think as a team, we played very strong defense.”
Even with the added pressure of playing in front of a very pro-Canada crowd, the U.S. team pulled through. All it took was a mad scramble for a loose puck behind Maschmeyer after a Megan Bozek slap shot was redirected by Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and bounced off a post. Carpenter was able to knock home the loose puck to give Team USA its third consecutive world title.
“I think it hit off Maschmeyer’s back and dropped into the crease,” Carpenter said. “I was just at the right place at the right time and help it get in there.”
The win on Canadian ice was a bit of revenge for the Americans. The last time Canada won the world title was on U.S. ice, in 2012 in Burlington, Vermont.
“It was pretty loud in this building tonight,” Carpenter said. “It was kind of nice to quiet them down early. It’s always fun to come play up here with how many spectators they bring in. It was just nice to be able to win the game at the same time.”
Judging by the play of both teams on Monday night, it’s a gold-medal rivalry that isn’t going away anytime soon.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.