Team USA (Claudio Bresciani/AFP/Getty Images)
In a game that will be talked about as one of the greatest in women’s hockey history, the United States defeated Canada 7-5 to capture the Women’s World Championship gold medal. Canada erased a three-goal deficit in two minutes to tie the game at five before Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker combined for the game-winner.
At every major women’s tournament it seems like an inevitability – the United States taking on Canada for the gold medal and the game becoming one of the highlights of the hockey season. The gold medal contest at the 2015 Women’s World Championship in Malmo, Sweden was no different.
What will be most memorable about the gold medal contest, aside from continued dominance at the World Championships by the American squad, is Canada's three-goal comeback in a span of little more than two minutes. The Canadian squad fought back from a 3-0 deficit to enter the first intermission down 4-2 before a Haley Skarupa marker put the Americans ahead 5-2.
Over the next 2:03, Canada rallied with three straight goals. First, Brigette Lacquette scored on a blast from the blueline. Rebecca Johnston followed that up with a goal from the slot. Then, with American goaltender Alex Rigsby replacing the rattled Jessie Vetter, Caroline Outlette produced the game-tying goal on a deflection of a Lacquette point shot. The Canadian effort set up for a furious finish in the third.
Through the first ten minutes of the final frame, the score held at 5-5, but a 2-on-1 break for Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker produced what would stand as the game-winning goal. After sneaking behind the Canadian defense, Knight held the puck, waited out a sliding defender and dished a perfect pass to Decker.
It was fitting, too, that Knight was the one to set up the gold medal-winning marker. Knight, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player and best forward, came into the gold medal game with four goals and 10 points before adding a goal and game-winning helper.
Kendall Coyne scored the insurance marker just 1:36 after Decker’s goal, putting the United States ahead 7-5. Minutes after Coyne’s goal, Canada’s Jocelyne Larocque got a shorthanded breakaway, but the puck rolled off of her stick and the missed opportunity was the last great chance the Canadians had in the game.
The 12 combined goals are the most ever in a Women’s World Championship gold medal game, breaking the record of nine goals previously set in 1994 when Canada defeated the U.S. 6-3. The nine-goal total was matched in 2012 when Canada toppled the rival Americans 5-4 in overtime. The 7-5 score, however, is almost unheard of for a championship game.
The World Championship victory marks the second straight for the United States and fifth in the last six tournaments. For the Canadians, the loss didn’t just mark their second straight tournament coming up short in the final, it also signaled the end of Caroline Ouellette’s career.
Ouellette, 35, tied the record for most World Championship medals, and ends her storied career as one of the most decorated women’s hockey players in history. In a 16-year career, Ouellette has racked up four Olympic gold medals, six World Championship golds and six World Championship silvers.
Next year’s tournament will be held in Kamloops, B.C., where it’s likely Canada and the U.S. will face off once again for World Championship supremacy.