Canada claimed its first women’s world hockey championship in almost a decade Tuesday when Marie-Philip Poulin scored the overtime winner in a 3-2 victory over the United States in Calgary.
The Canadians won gold nine years after their last time atop the podium in 2012, and after not reaching the final for the first time in the history of the tournament in 2019.
The U.S had won five world titles in a row and eight of the previous nine.
Poulin scored at 7:22 of 3-on-3 overtime. Brianne Jenner passed the puck up to the captain whose shot went off the crossbar and into the net.
The goal was initially waived off by an on-ice official, but the Canadians were soon piling on top of each other in celebration.
“It’s been awhile since 2012. It’s been a long time coming,” Poulin said. “The team showed up tonight and I think we stayed resilient.”
Assistant captain Blayre Turnbull suffered a leg injury during the celebration pileup.
She was carried off the ice before returning to celebrate from a stretcher with her teammates during the Canadian anthem.
Jenner had a goal and two assists and Jamie Lee Rattray also scored for Canada. Defender Jocelyne Larocque had two assists. Ann-Renee Desbiens made 23 saves in the win.
Alex Carpenter scored twice for the U.S. Nicole Hensley turned away 29 shots in the loss.
Canada and the U.S. required extra time to decide the world champion for the fifth time in their last seven clashes for the gold medal.
“That’s why it’s the greatest rivalry in sports,” U.S. forward Amanda Kessel said.
The U.S. led 2-0 after the opening period on Carpenter’s two goals, but the hosts drew even in the second.
Rattray tipped Larocque’s shot from the point between Hensley’s pads for an equalizer at 6:42.
Jenner halved the deficit with a power-play goal 4:13. In a goal-mouth scramble, the assistant captain went backhand to forehand to beat Hensley’s glove.
Carpenter spun and tucked the puck under Desbiens for a power-play goal at 12:35 of the first period.
Desbiens had gloved Lee Stecklein’s shot from the point, but dropped the puck in front of her. Carpenter shovelled her own rebound between Desbiens’ pads at 9:55.
Canada’s Melodie Daoust, who was named tournament MVP, led the tournament in scoring with six goals and six assists in seven games.
Poulin reinforced her reputation as a golden goaler. She scored twice for Canada in a 2-0 win over the Americans to win Olympic gold in 2010.
The 30-year-old from Beauceville, Que., scored a late equalizer and the overtime winner against the U.S. four years later for another Olympic gold.
Poulin didn’t play in a 5-1 win over the U.S. in the preliminary round in Calgary. She’d taken a hard shot in the upper chest earlier in the tournament.
Her laser over Hensley’s shoulder Tuesday pulled Canada to the top of the international women’s hockey podium again.
“If you see 29 open, you’ve got to put it on her stick and she does the rest,” Jenner said.
Canada went unbeaten through the championship in Calgary.
Troy Ryan won his first tournament as Canada’s head coach.
He faces the prospect of Turnbull sidelined as Canada prepares for February’s Winter Olympics in Beijing.
“It looked bad. I was right beside it as she was coming off the ice. Obviously a terrible situation,” Ryan said.
The Canadians didn’t reach the final for the first time in the history of the women’s championship in 2019, when they lost 4-2 to host Finland in a semifinal in Espoo.
The COVID-19 pandemic stifling international women’s hockey meant a long wait for another chance at gold.
The 2020 women’s championship in Halifax and Truro, N.S., was cancelled. Those communities were awarded the tournament again in 2021.
After a postponement from April to May, Nova Scotia’s premier at the time pulled the plug on the tournament the day teams were departing for the province.
The men’s under-18 championship in Texas in April, and the men’s world championship in Latvia in May were completed.
Hockey Canada relocated and rescheduled the women’s championship to Calgary in August less than six months out from the Olympics.
Hockey Canada didn’t sell tickets in Calgary. Only family members were allowed into a dedicated section of WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre.
Players from other countries watched Tuesday’s final from the other side of the arena.
Players, team personnel and officials were tested for COVID-19 before arrival, during a five-day quarantine before the tournament and during the event.
They were confined to the tournament hotel and the arena, and travelled by bus between the two sites.
There were no positive tests for the coronavirus in over 3,000 conducted, and all teams will be able to travel Wednesday, the International Ice Hockey Federation said Tuesday.
Finland beat Switzerland for the bronze medal earlier Tuesday.
Canada, the U.S., Finland, Switzerland, Russia, Japan and host China have berths in the 10-country Olympic women’s hockey field. The remaining three spots will be filled via Olympic qualifying tournaments in November.
The IIHF is expected to approve in September the addition of the women’s championship to Olympic years starting in 2022 in August. A host city has yet to be named.
The women’s tournament would revert back to spring in non-Olympic years.
The IIHF is also expected to expand women’s rosters to 25, including three goaltenders, to match the men’s rosters at future world championships.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press