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Espoo 2019: USA named World Champions

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After an incredible performance and a disallowed goal, Finland loses in the shootout.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 10 Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Noora Räty is in net for Finland, because of course she is, with Alex Rigsby at the other end for Team USA.

First Period

We start off with a point shot by Megan Keller that Räty saves, and then Finland sweeps it out of danger.

A nice attempted alley-oop pass by Finland that the streaking forward can’t quite corral.

Annie Pankowski takes it the other way but Räty gloves it down.

A Ronja Savolainen shot goes high and hits glass.

Cheryl, they’ve been asking if this is going to be Riikka Sallinen’s final game in a Finland uniform for like a decade now. I mean, it might! But I am placing no bets here.

Not the world’s greatest clear by Räty, it hits her own cage and her defense has to scramble a bit, just to make sure everyone’s paying attention.

Venla Hovi stole a puck in the US zone and looked like she might be trouble but the US let her get two steps before stripping it.

Räty makes a save on Compher, and soon after that, a stop in front on Knight.

There’s a tough battle off the faceoff, Räty makes the save, but the puck stays in the zone. She makes what looks to be a glove save except she seems to drop it in front, and then the puck goes out briefly.

There are a couple of opportunistic shots by the US but Räty sees them all the way.

The puck makes it into the US zone but no shots. It’s directed behind the US net and then out. When it comes back in, USA looks like they’re on a power play. Finland’s gonna get a whistle for holding if they’re not careful.

The crowd is super, super into it. It’s tremendously loud in here, and they have some very coordinated chants going.

There are a bunch of short range shots on Räty trying to get past her pads, but she eventually smothers the puck.

Another shot off the faceoff, Noora’s got it. The US gets set up in their zone and Cayla Barnes takes a shot that Räty’s able to get a piece of,

Finland keeps getting it out into Rigsby’s end but not really getting shots on the goalie.

There’s an Amanda Kessel shot that Räty blocks. The two of them played together at Minnesota, so there’s a lot of familiarity there on both sides.

A shot from square in the slot off a giveaway is gloved by Räty.

An ungreat Finnish defensive breakdown lets Lee Stecklein just dance on in and get a close shot on Räty that she saves, but that was hella close. It was like nobody could see her.

Venla Hovi and Linda Välimäki have a 2-on-1, Hovi’s shot is blocked and Välimäki can’t pick it up before the US defender gets it.

A high shot by Megan Bozek from the point is gloved by Räty—she has to leap up a bit for it!

Finland stands up the US at the blue line, nicely done.

A floating shot by Savolainen is gloved by Rigsby.

A hard shot by Hovi on the rush goes just high of the cage.

There’s a scrambly save by Räty on Hayley Scamurra and then when it bangs out to Hannah Brandt she snags the puck out of the air with her glove. Noora Räty has been extra elite so far today.

Tanja Niskanen pushes through the US defense and makes it to behind the US net but her pass to the net front doesn’t go anywhere.

US is getting hard pressure, and the Finns are backchecking them with energy and commitment, but the US chances are still very good. At one point the puck rolls behind Räty but Jenni Hiirikoski is there to sweep it out of danger. The puck still doesn’t leave the zone though. They finally clear it out just to the red line, but Team USA goes offsides on the re-entry giving Team Finland a much-needed opportunity to breathe and change.

A backhand chance right at Räty’s doorstep and she goes sprawling; puck barely stays out, but she manages it. The period ends 0-0.

Second Period

Finland looks like they might get something going after Finland intercepts an attempted US outlet pass, but Dani Cameranesi trips Sallinen and Finland goes to the power play instead.

Finland sets up, Hiirikoski bomb from the point is blocked, USA forces it out to the neutral zone. Susanna Tapani carries it back in but Team USA is able to keep the Finns from getting off a good chance before sending it the other way.

There’s a quick wrister from Tapani, but no dice. Minnamari Tuominen tries a shot from the point but it gets blocked down by traffic in the slot.

Kelly Pannek gets a shorthanded rush but Hiirikoski strips her of the puck with extreme prejudice. US kills it off.

It’s absolutely rocking in the arena right now. So loud!

USA seems to be dominating in terms of possession, but the Finns are doing a great job making their lives really difficult with an aggressive defensive style and keeping the Americans to the outside.

Hiirikoski floats a shot on the rush on Rigsby to get herself an offensive-zone faceoff. Smart play.

There’s a pass from her knees by Hannah Brandt but her teammate can’t get off a solid chance.

This Finnish defense is really impressive considering they’re facing the best offense in the game. They just really need to get more offense going!

Brianna Decker trips Noora Tulus in the neutral zone and Team Finland goes back to the power play.

A Michelle Karvinen point shot is blocked and sent the other way, but Carpenter’s centering pass can’t be handled by Knight, who’s got Hiirikoski all over her. Team USA continues to get some shorthanded pressure but nothing goes in.

Tapani walks right into the Finnish zone and is brought down by a US player—no call. The Finns do manage to get set up again. A one-timer by Petra Nieminen doesn’t go through and the Americans manage to kill it off.

Just after, on the rush, Niskanen is driving the net and Lee Stecklein slides right into her legs, taking her down into the net. She’s slow getting up but seems okay.

A wraparound attempt by Pfalzer is saved by Räty. Emily Pfalzer’s had a good game so far.

Nelli Laitinen comes in and gets a strong shot off that goes off the side of Rigsby’s net.

A Kelly Pannek shot is blocked down by a Finn and sent the other way, but the US brings it right back. Cameranesi fires a shot right from the hash marks and Räty handles it.

Kacey Bellamy sends a shot wide of Räty off a great feed by Carpenter.

There’s a backhand chance by Niskanen but Rigsby makes the save.

A Knight net-front chance that Räty stops with her paddle is yet another installment in this game’s great battle, Hilary Knight vs Noora Räty.

Karvinen disrupts a possible wraparound chance long enough for Räty to get back in position, and then she blocks down a nasty Pankowski shot. The US is getting a ton of zone time right now, just leaning on the Finns, but Räty makes a diving save on a Kendall Coyne Schofield shot and gets a much-needed whistle.

Räty makes a tough save on a turning shot by Scamurra.

Finland finally looks like they’ve got a rush going with Ronja Savolainen streaking in but they’re whistled for offsides.

Pankowski scores! Finns can’t get it through the neutral zone, Pankowski picks up the loose puck, comes in at speed, and just snipes it past Räty. Beautiful goal. 1-0 Team USA.

Tulus almost gets a breakaway but with Pfalzer gaining on her she takes a shot from the high slot on Rigsby, who manages to cover.

Nieminen comes in at speed a few minutes later and while her shot is saved by Rigsby, she also sends Pfalzer right into the goalpost. Coyne Schofield looks like she’s angling for a penalty, but there’s no call on the play.

A stretch pass misses Coyne Schofield and rolls in on Räty, who covers.

Karvinen and Barnes get tangled up behind Rigsby’s cage for a while

TIE GAME. Petra Nieminen spins off the wall, charges into the slot, dishes a great pass to Susanna Tapani at the far hash marks, who makes absolutely no mistake and blasts it top shelf. It’s 1-1, and the Finnish crowd goes nuts.

With 1.2 seconds remaining in the period, Riikka Sallinen is whistled for tripping Pfalzer. The period elapses without further scoring, although Susanna Tapani and Brianna Decker get into it a bit off the faceoff. Tapani’s shit-eating grin is a pleasure to behold.

Third Period

Finland gains possession off the faceoff and sends it down into the US end, killing off some power play time. Rosa Lindstedt and Hiirikoski keep it pinned along the end boards behind Räty for a good chunk of time.

A Knight shot from the hash marks is saved by Räty.

A wraparound attempt goes through the slot and Nieminen ends up picking it up and skating it out to the US end before the US can regain possession

Another Knight shot, and a pad save by Räty. Karvinen clears it after a scuffle along the boards

We get a pad save by Räty on Keller, but Finland kills it off. We return to full strength amidst a flurry of shots from the US, right as play is whistled dead for a player in the crease.

Fantastic little no-look pass from Pankowski to Pfalzer, Pfalzer comes in on the net but there’s traffic in front and she can’t put it past Räty.

A great Sallinen pass to Sanni Hakala who makes a nice move to put the puck through Barnes’s legs but can’t quite get it around Rigsby.

A Knight shot from the top of the faceoff circle is saved by Räty. Truly, it felt like this happened a dozen times in the game.

A turning shot by Coyne Schofield is saved by Räty and no one can pick up the rebound. There’s a ton of pressure form the Coyne Schofield line, they pepper Räty with shots but nothing goes. They’ve looked particularly good this game, especially Pankowski.

Eventually Tapani intercepts a pass and takes it the other way.

Sydney Brodt comes in to the Finnish zone at speed but her shot is blocked by Hiirikoski, who’s been doing that a lot, on top of as far as I can tell having been on the ice this entire game.

Nieminen almost gets good position with the puck in the slot but it rolls off her stick.

Savolainen stands Knight up on entry and then carries it the other way, putting a shot on Rigsby and making her squeeze it to her chest.

Tapani tries to play it up to Karvinen along the boards but she’s denied, eventually Hiirikoski gets it out of the zone on the other side.

The puck ends up under Niskanen in front of the Finnish net and is eventually whistled dead, and Niskanen looks like she’s in some discomfort as she skates off. Having several Americans dig at you with sticks is not, I would imagine, comfortable.

Nieminen gets it out to the neutral zone again and passes it off to Tulus, but Tulus can’t complete the give and go and they lose possession.

A quick shot by Brodt goes high and hits glass

Sallinen maneuvers in, patiently looks for the pass and eventually takes the shot for lack of better options, but it’s blocked and neutralized.

Another Knight shot that looks like it just misses.

Decker’s stood up in the neutral zone and it goes the other way

Another quick shot by Tapani, but Rigsby saves it this time, and then there’s a scuffle.

Great chance for the US, Räty is down, but play is again whistled dead because a player—this time, Pankowski—is in the crease.

Knight’s had a lot of shots actually get through but Räty’s been there for all of them.

Another blocked shot on a US chance, this time by Niskanen.

Michelle Karvinen seems to have been having skate problems this period, which is really not good for Finland—she is an exceptional player and one of their most game-breaking forwards, and they need her to be her best.

There’s a long shot from Hiirikoski on the rush, Rigsby saves it and then Hovi chases the rebound into the corner but they can’t keep possession.

Brodt lines up a shot and takes her time with it, but still misses the cage.

The refs are calling absolutely nothing—a Finn just basically bear-hugged Cameranesi behind Räty’s cage and we’re all apparently pretending that is fine.

There’s a diving block by Valimaki on Coyne Schofield, great defensive play.

Pannek brings it in, Knight shoots it, the puck flips up in midair but stays out. Knight almost deflects it into an open net but can’t make it go in a flurry of strong US pressure to end regulation. A Barnes shot is saved by Räty, bounces to a Finnish player who can clear it, and regulation ticks down. We go to overtime tied 1-1.

Overtime

OT at Worlds is 4 on 4, which means both teams will have even more ice to work with.

Tapani brings it into the Finnish zone curls around the net and passes to Karvinen, who puts a shot on Rigsby. She saves it but keeps it in play, and the US tries to bring it the other way, but it takes them a couple tries because Finland is clogging up the neutral zone.

A bad turnover on a Finnish outlet pass leads to a great chance for Cameranesi but Räty is there to stop it.

Carpenter gets two successive shots off from the slot but I don’t think either make it through the Finnish defenders, who are shot-blocking like crazy.

Everyone seems to be more deliberate so far in overtime, almost cautious—possibly a reaction to all that extra space and not wanting to give up a rush with numbers.

Knight almost has a chance with a loose puck but it’s spiked away by a Finnish defender.

There’s a Decker shot that Räty saves short side.

Coyne Schofield sends a shot just wide.

Räty makes a save on Sydney Brodt.

There’s an interception by Karvinen as the US tries a zone entry.

A Valimaki shot is saved by Rigsby, then a long-range chance by Tuominen is too.

And we have a penalty when Venla Hovi dumps Brianna Decker along the boards in the Finnish zone. The US will get a 4 on 3 power play, and takes a timeout to draw up their strategy.

Decker wins the draw and the US sets up immediately, passing around the top of the umbrella before Knight puts a quick shot through traffic on Räty that she saves.

Great diving play by Hiirikoski in the slot to spike the puck away.

In an extremely close call for Team USA, a Knight backhand shot hits the goalpost. There’s a frantic scramble, but finally Finland clears.

A Keller bomb is blocked and cleared by Finland.

There’s a desperate play by Savolainen to stop Pannek from getting off a shot on the doorstep. Right after the power play expires, Pannek misses the net in yet another heart-stoppingly close chance. Finland kills it off, but wow that was a near thing.

Finland takes a timeout to regroup

Nieminen strips Cameranesi and brings it back to to the neutral zone, but she can’t get further than that.

Another glove save by Räty, this time on Pfalzer.

Savolainen, Karvinen, and Tapani get some time in the US zone until Tapani gives it away and it’s sent the other way. Decker puts a shot on Räty that she fights off.

Another Keller point shot saved by Räty.

Nieminen forces her way into the US zone and puts a backhand shot on Rigsby. Nieminen has impressed the hell out of me this game.

Tapani strips an American and passes to the point, and the point shot almost goes in.

Karvinen carries it back in and it almost goes in through traffic.

Hiirikoski charges in, crashes into Rigsby (who is well out of her crease) and then Petra Nieminen puts in the puck over a sprawling Rigsby. Finland is elated, celebrates the win, and then after the world’s longest goal review (twelve goddamn minutes!), it’s waved off. Everyone has to pick up their gear and return to play.

To only add confusion, Team USA also apparently took a penalty on that play, although at first nobody knows why or when—eventually turns out it was on Alex Rigsby for tripping, which is utterly bewildering in every way. If the goal wasn’t good due to goalie interference, Finland should be getting the penalty, but if it was a tripping call on Rigsby I’m genuinely bewildered at what the rationale is for waving off a game-winning goal. The Finns are absolutely livid, and understandably so—I am too.

They eventually settle on Carpenter in the box, and Finland goes to the power play.

A Hiirikoski point shot was blocked. Karvinen and Hiirikoski play catch at the top of the umbrella, pass it to Tulus who gets off a shot, which is blocked. Diving keep in by Hiirikoski, but Knight and Keller collect it anyway for a shorthanded rush which is called offsides. Nieminen sends a shot off Rigsby’s shoulder that she smothered.

Välimäki tries a wraparound that Rigsby denies.

Knight tries a backhand right from the doorstep and then Räty saves both it and the follow-up shot on the rebound.

A Coyne Schofield shot is deflected over the top of the cage by Räty.

Decker is stripped by the Finnish defense in the slot, regains the puck and gets a shot off that Räty saves.

Delayed penalty on Team USA, and Finland pulls Räty for an extra attacker. A Savolainen shot narrowly misses top corner before the Americans manage to touch up, and then the Finns go back to a power play as Megan Keller goes to the box for slashing.

Nieminen shot narrowly misses, so does a point shot shortly after. Tuominen’s shot deflects and goes up high. There’s a scrambly save by Rigsby in the high crease with Lindstedt right there, and there’s one last faceoff with one second remaining. OT is finished, and we’re headed to a shootout.

IIHF shootouts are five rounds. Any player except Megan Keller, who was still in the box at the conclusion of overtime, is eligible to shoot.

Shootout

Michelle Karvinen sends it wide.

Amanda Kessel scores.

Ronja Savolainen is saved.

Annie Pankowski scores.

Minttu Tuominen scores.

Alex Carpenter is saved.

Petra Nieminen misses the net.

Hilary Knight is saved.

Susanna Tapani is saved.

Team USA wins the gold medal, although it’s one that’s going to come with a good deal of controversy. That’s a damn shame, because final results aside, this was an incredible game from Team Finland. They spent four full periods of hockey going punch for punch with the greatest women’s hockey team in the world, and not only scored a goal that was disallowed for inexplicable reasons, it had to be decided in a shootout. Up until the overturned game-winning goal turned the narrative of this game into one of terrible officiating, this was one of the most enjoyable hockey games I’ve seen at the international level. Noora Räty has cemented her status as one of the most talented women to ever play the game, Jenni Hiirikoski put in an unbelievable performance on defense, and they did it in front of a huge, loud, supportive home crowd.

For what it’s worth, Team Finland has also filed an official protest, although it seems hard to imagine that it would change the outcome. Who knows, though.

Awards

Most Valuable Player: Jenni Hiirikoski, Finland

Directorate Awards

Best Goalie: Noora Raty, Finland

Best Defender: Jenni Hiirikoski, Finland

Best Forward: Kendall Coyne Schofield, USA

Media All-Star Team

Goaltender: Noora Raty, Finland
Defence: Jenni Hiirikoski, Finland, Cayla Barnes, USA
Forward: Hilary Knight, USA, Kendall Coyne Schofield, USA, Michelle Karvinen, Finland

Final standings

  1. USA
  2. Finland
  3. Canada
  4. Russia
  5. Switzerland
  6. Czech Republic
  7. Germany
  8. Japan
  9. Sweden
  10. France