ZLIN, CZECH REPUBLIC - JANUARY 14: Team USA poses with their trophy during gold medal game action against Canada at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship. (Photo by Andrea Cardin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Zumwinkle's late goal gives Americans repeat
Canada came back in the third to tie the game 1-1, but Grace Zumwinkle scored on a two-on-one with just 2:32 remaining. An empty netter made the final 3-1.
Grace Zumwinkle converted a two-on-one late in the third period to break a 1-1 tie and lead the United States to a 3-1 win over Canada to claim gold at the WW18.
"It's such an incredible feeling," began captain Cayla Barnes, who was playing in her final WW18 game. "We started preparing for this in the summer. January 14 has always been in the back of our minds, so we're so happy to be here. We had some fire in us. We didn't want to lose again to Canada [after a 1-0 overtime loss in the round robin]. We never looked back. For us, it's always 'never too high; never too low.'"
For the Americans, it's their second straight gold, and for Canada a second year of heartbreak. In all, the Americans move ahead 6-4 in gold medals at the U18 championship for women, an event that has matured and developed immensely in its ten years of existence.
"I thought both teams battled hard," said Canada's Amy Potomak. "In the end, the bounces didn't go our way, but I'm extremely proud of the team."
"We all worked hard to get to this point," U.S. goalie Alex Gulstene offered. "They got that late goal, but we rallied and got the 2-1 lead. It was unbelievable. We got the next goal and won the game. It makes the blood, sweat, and tears of training worth it."
"We had a really good mix of returning players and younger players," said coach USA Joel Johnson. "I think what made us special was that we got better as the tournament went on. The players trusted each other, and some took on different roles than they're used to. But the whole team stepped up."
The Americans had talked about getting off to a fast start and using their speed against Canada, and they did just that. Canada had a tough time for the first seven or eight minutes of doing anything but getting the puck out, but the U.S., for all their forechecking and pressure, couldn’t get many quality shots.
And then the tide quickly turned. Canada started to skate with more confidence, getting the puck deep and creating opportunities. The line of Daryl Watts-Emma Maltais-Sarah Fillier cam close to opening the scoring on a scramble around the goal, but Gulstene kept the puck out.
A Fillier giveaway offered a great chance for Clair DeGeorge, but although Canada's goalie Danika Ranger bobbled the shot, she, too, kept the puck out.
Amy Potomak determination drew the only penalty of a physical period off a nice rush, and although Canada moved the puck around crisply on the ensuing power play and had a couple of decent chances, there was no goal to be had.
Despite the fast start, the U.S. was outshot 12-3 in the period and went to the dressing room looking to recalibrate.
Recalibrate they did. They started the second like the first, but this time they drew a penalty and converted on the ensuing power play. Delaney Drake got the puck down by the goal line and fired form a bad angle, squeaking the puck by Ranger at 5:56 to make it 1-0 for the U.S.
"We've been spending a lot of time working on the power play, moving the puck quicker," Drake said. "Clair [DeGeorge] made a really good pass to me down low,and I pulled it and shot between the goalie's skates, and it went in."
But they did not let up. Canada was on its heels most of the period and wasn’t able to find a reply to the American pressure as they had in the first. The Canadians had two power plays, and although they moved the puck well, they didn’t force Gulstene to make a big save either.
"We thought we generated a lot of chances in the first period and didn't convert, and in the second we didn't generate those chances," said Canada's coach, Troy Ryan. "A game like ths comes down to executing at the right time."
The Americans played hard again in the third and didn't give Canada much, but a penalty to Allyson Simpson midway through gave Canada a bit of life. Daryl Watts drilled a high shot over Gulstene's shoulder with one second left in the penalty to tie the game.
The goal came at 13:43, and overtime seemed inevitable. But the U.S. took advantage of a loose puck at centre ice and created a two-on-one. Ranger made a nice save on the initail shot by Clair DeGeorge, but Zumwinkle was there to bang home the rebound.
"We were fine," Barnes said of the tying goal. "We stuck to our game. We knew we were going to get another one. Foot on the gas pedal."
"We certainly played more defensively in the third period. That's natural," said Johnson, "but as a coach I had to be thinking about overtime. We hit reset and were fine."
Emily Oden finished the scoring with an empty netter with 5.9 seconds remaining and Canada with a six-on-four (power play and goalie out).