Hockey: U.S. Women Wins Fifth Straight World Gold

Hockey: U.S. Women Wins Fifth Straight World Gold

Women’s hockey entered a new era on Sunday. Amanda Kessel and Annie Pankowski scored shootout goals to give the United States a 2-1 win over host Finland before a crowd of 6,053 in Espoo.

It marked the fifth straight World Championship for the Americans, who went a perfect 7-0 during the tournament, but it was the first time the United States faced a team other than Canada in the gold medal game, in fact, it was the first time in the history of the tournament that the gold-medal game was not a U.S.-Canada matchup.

The American win was not without controversy; Petra Nieminen scored an apparent game-winning goal for Finland 11:33 into the single 20-minute sudden-death overtime period but after a lengthy review the goal was disallowed.

American goaltender Alex Rigsby, who was involved in a collision with a Finnish player was accessed a two-minute penalty on the play. Both regulation goals came in the second period.

Pankowski gave the United States a 1-0 with 4:14 left in the period when scored off assists from Kendall Coyne Schofield and Emily Pfalzer. Susanna Tapani tied the game for the hosts with 1:31 remaining with Nieminen and Minnamari Tuominen picking up the assists. Rigsby and Finland netminder Noora Raty were in command the rest of the way. The U.S. finished with a 51-27 edge in shots. Raty finished with 50 saves over the course of 80 minutes. American Hillary Knight led the tournament in scoring with seven goals and four assists.

Coyne Schofield wound up with five goals and four assists for nine points. Pankowski finished the tournament with four goals and three assists for seven points while Dani Cameranesi added three goals and four assists.

Rigsby was in goal for five of her team’s seven games, finishing with a superb goals-against average of 0.94 and a save percentage of 95.28, both of which led all tournament goaltenders.

Raty had the second-best save percentage in the tournament at 93.66. This marks the ninth time the U.S. has won the women’s world championship. The tournament was first contested in 1990 and was played every other year through 1996. After a one-year break, it resumed in 1997 and has been played every year since, save for Olympic years.

Prior to Sunday, Finland had finished third in the tournament 12 times. Canada placed third in this year’s tournament after defeating Russia in the bronze-medal game. This year’s American team, which was coached by Bob Corkum, included 13 players on the 23-woman roster who are currently playing professional hockey, including seven who are playing in the National Women’s Hockey League.

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Rick spent more than 15 years in broadcasting before going into print journalism; covering a wide variety of sports during his career but derives his greatest satisfaction from writing about golf and golf history.

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