HARBIN, China – The U.S. Women's National Team captured the gold medal with a 4-3 win over Canada at the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Women's Championship here tonight at the Baqu Arena. Team USA finished with the tournament with a 4-0-1-0 record and ended with back-to-back victories over top-seeded Canada for its second gold medal in the last three world championships.
Team USA took a 2-1 lead in the opening period, then went up 4-1 in the second frame before Canada scored two third-period goals for the 4-3 score.
"We're extremely proud of our team and the way they performed throughout the entire tournament," said Jackie Barto, head coach for Team USA. "We came out and built on the energy we established on Thursday - it was a great win for Team USA. Jessie Vetter was outstanding in goal and came up with some big saves. We also had exceptional leadership from our veterans; their experience was very helpful in this team reaching its goal of winning the gold medal."
In the first period, Canada gained a 1-0 lead at the 1:57 mark when Sarah Vaillancourt flipped the puck into the right corner of the net during a four-on-four situation.
Team USA bounced back with a pair of goals to take a 2-1 lead before the period had expired. Jenny Potter (Edina, Minn.) was first to score for the Americans, as Julie Chu (Fairfield, Conn.) fed her the puck and she one-timed it from the right point at 8:09 during a U.S. power play. Captain Natalie Darwitz (Eagan, Minn.) then gave Team USA the one-goal advantage as she skated up the length of the ice, deked in front of the Canadian net and put a wrist shot inside the right post at 17:41.
In the middle frame, the United States tallied twice more to take a 4-1 lead. The first was scored during a two-man advantage when Angela Ruggiero (Harper Woods, Mich.) took a shot from the top of the slot that bounced off the end boards and was tipped in by Potter at 10:54. Darwitz then netted her second of the evening, again skating up the length of the ice on the right side and sniping the puck just inside the far post past Canadian netminder Kim St-Pierre at 18:41.
In the final stanza, Canada potted a pair of goals within a 1:10 span to cut the U.S. lead to 4-3. Katie Weatherston scored at 8:38, followed by a power-play rebound-goal from Jennifer Botterill at 9:48. Team USA then killed off three penalties in the final half of the period to secure the win.
St-Pierre and Charline Labonte combined for 25 saves in net for Canada, while Jessie Vetter(Cottage Grove, Wis.) stopped 21 for the United States.
NOTES: Team USA was 2-for-13 on the power play, while holding Canada to 1-for-11 with the man advantage ...Natalie Darwitz, Jenny Potter and Caitlin Cahow were named Team USA's best players of the tournament ... Angela Ruggiero won the Directorate Award as the tournament's best defenseman, while Natalie Darwitz was the tournament's top forward and the overall MVP ... Molly Engstrom sat out the game with an injury ... The United States had never previously beaten Canada twice in one world championship ... All Team USA games were audiocast live via usahockey.com, and will later be archived with video in the same location ... Team USA has won one gold medal and nine silver medals in the 10 previous IIHF World Women’s Championships … Joining Jackie Barto on the coaching staff as assistant coaches are Paul Flanagan, head women’s ice hockey coach at Syracuse University, and Kevin Houle, head women’s ice hockey coach at SUNY-Plattsburgh. Dave Flint, head women's ice hockey coach at Saint Anselm College, is serving as the goaltending coach.