Gold Medal game: Canada vs USA
USA, 3-2 (OT)
This game included everything we expect to see from these two teams: speed, intensity, skill, and amazing goaltending.
Meghan Agosta opened up the scoring for Canada just one minute in, taking a feed from Jennifer Wakefield and sending it over USA goaltender Nicole Hensley.
Kacey Bellamy answered back three and a half minutes later on what looked to be a set play off a faceoff in the Canadian zone. It changed directions off a Canadian player in front and Szabados couldn’t move fast enough.
The teams exchanged power plays, got a couple of posts, tied each other up in the neutral zone and generally entertained everyone watching but couldn’t score again until the third.
Kacey Bellamy broke the tie only 40 seconds into the third period. Hilary Knight sent a pass from behind the net and Bellamy managed the redirect up and over Szabados to make it 2-1.
Kacey Bellamy hattrick watch. 2-1 pic.twitter.com/tApiE18zQ1— Women's Hockey Gifs (@CWHLHighlights) April 8, 2017
Team Canada seemed to lose focus for a while and USA was pressing in the Canadian zone. Then Brianna Decker sent Laura Fortino sprawling, giving Canada the advantage and Brianne Jenner the opportunity to do this:
It took a review to convince the refs a goal had been scored but eventually the game was officially tied.
A few more penalties to Canada upped the stress level for Canadian fans, including one with two and a half minutes left on the clock. There was a flurry of US shots as time wound down, but Szabados was equal to all of them. It was time for free hockey.
The USA dominated the overtime period, helped in part by a two minute power play. Halli Krzyzaniak had to bail her goalie out as a puck got through Szabados and came within inches of the goal line before Krzyzaniak batted it out of the crease. Canada got a few opportunities on Hensley, some of them heart-stopping, but the game winner came from Hilary Knight on a beauty of a shot.
Knight blocked a shot from Krzyzaniak and sprung Kendall Coyne, who might be the fastest skater on either team. Coyne sent the puck back to Knight, and Knight ripped a shot right past Szabados.
The first gold at home for Team USA and, kudos to them, they earned it.
Bronze Medal game: Germany vs Finland
Finland scored less than a minute into the game. The first two goals were both a little controversial with questions as to whether the puck had already been frozen by goalie Jennifer Harss and whether the Finns were in the crease.
The third goal came with just 3:43 left in the third period. Echoing the first two goals this was another play in close — a wraparound attempt by Linda Valimaki resulted in a small rebound which Venla Hovi pounced on before Harss could react. Still, a shot count of 11 - 2 for the Finns was better than many had expected from the German defence.
Ivonne Schroder replaced Harss to start the second period, and her luck was much worse. In the second period she let in five goals on 21 shots, most from much farther out than her colleague. There were no goals in the third as the Finns let their foot off the gas slightly.
It was a disappointing end to the German underdog story. Still, though the score favoured the Finns, the Germans managed much more zone time than they had against the US. They came close to scoring on more than one of their very few chances. Noora Räty wasn’t very busy, but she was still a factor in this game and the Germans should be proud of that.
Relegation Game 3: Switzerland vs Czech Republic
The Czechs chose to start Blanka Skodova for the first time this tournament. Klara Peslarova, who started all five previous games, did not dress. As is usual in a game between these two teams, there were plenty of penalties — a total of 26 minutes. Also usual - the one Czech goal came from Tereza Vanišová, who led the team in goals for the tournament. The Swiss scorers were familiar too: Lara Stalder, Christine Meier and Alina Müller were involved in one or other of the three goals, with one scored by Dominique Ruegg and an assist from goalie Florence Schelling just for fun.
The Czechs are officially relegated to Division IA and will now be awaiting word of the IIHF vote in May to expand the World Championships to 10 teams. That could keep them in the Top level until the next Worlds in 2019.
Extended highlight from IIHF on vimeo.
Best Goalie: Noora Räty, Team Finland
Best Forward: Brianna Decker, Team USA
Best Defenceman: Jenni Hiirikoski, Team Finland