The U.S. women’s ice hockey team beat Canada 3-2 in overtime on Monday in Switzerland, taking their third-straight world championship.
The tournament’s lead scorer, Hilary Knight, tapped in the game-winning shot nearly eight minutes into the four-on-four sudden-death overtime, catching a puck rebounding off the boards and slipping it past Canadian goalkeeper Shannan Szabados. Before Monday’s game, Knight had already scored 12 points over four games: four goals and eight assists, including a hat trick in the team's 13-1 victory over Russia.
The U.S. claimed back-to-back victories in 2008 and 2009 in the International Ice Hockey Federation world championships. (The tournament wasn’t held in 2010 due to the Olympics.) The victory is also sweet revenge for the American team after the Canadians shut them out 2-0 last year in Vancouver.
Heading into the tournament’s gold-medal game, the last two teams standing had each racked up an impressive number of points as they plowed through lesser opponents. The U.S. led the field with 32 goals over four games, while Canada had amassed 25.
But the score of Monday’s game, played in front of more than 4,000 fans at the Hallenstadion in Zurich, stayed relatively low, as the teams faced opponents who seemed their match.
The U.S. took the lead toward the end of the first period, but Canada tied it up with only eight seconds left before the whistle. In the second period, which saw few shots, the U.S. again drew ahead with a backhanded shot by team captain Jenny Potter, a four-time Olympian who won gold in 1998.
The third quickly grew physical, but the U.S. remained ahead thanks to a stellar save by goalkeeper Jessie Vetter. As the minutes ticked down, however, Canadian player Rebecca Johnston slapped one into the far left corner of the net, forcing the game into overtime.
Between these two rivals, low-scoring matches and overtime games are par for the course. Of the 16 times the teams have faced off in world championship gold medal rounds, six games ended with a one-point difference and four games went into overtime. In 2005 -- the last of those games that headed to OT -- the U.S. won in a shootout.
"I am so thrilled for the players," Team USA head coach Katey Stone said in a statement after the game. "They've worked extremely hard and bought into everything we were trying to accomplish. They played their hearts out -- what an awesome night."
U.S. team captain Jenny Potter, 32, has a 10-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son, but is the team's only mother. Most of the team skews younger, including Kendall Coyne, 18, who scored the U.S.’s first goal of the tournament; Caitlin Cahow, a first-year law student at Boston College; and the first set of twins to play on the U.S. national level -- Jocelyne Lamoureux and Monique Lamoureux-Koll.
More:Women's Hockey Women's Sports 2011 IIHF World Championships US Women's Hockey The Playing Field
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