2022 U18 Women’s Worlds: Canada holds off U.S. comeback to win long awaited title

·3 min read

As the second period of the 2022 IIHF U18 women’s hockey world championship gold medal game was coming to a close at LaBahn arena on Monday night, it looked like Canada was going to skate away with a blowout win.

While USA-Canada women’s hockey games never follow a predictable script, the idea that Canada would be leading 3-0 midway through the second period seemed improbable ahead of Monday night’s game, especially after the U.S. defeated its cross-border rival 7-0 in group play.

Canada got off to an early lead in the first period thanks to a powerplay goal from Alexia Aubin. Then, midway through the second period, Ava Murphy and Jocelyn Amos scored 58 seconds apart to make it 3-0 with just over seven minutes to go until intermission (video highlights below).

But the Americans managed to regain the momentum before the end of the second period. After Canadian Jordan Baxter was sent to the box with a penalty for body checking, the U.S. capitalized with a goal from Finley McCarthy. Seven seconds later, Claire Enright made it a one-goal game (video highlights below).

According to the IIHF, the seven-second gap between McCarthy and Enright’s goals tied the tournament record for fastest back-to-back goals. Fellow Team USA players Alex Carpenter and Kendall Coyne (2010), and Abby Ness and Sydney Daniels (2011), also scored seven seconds apart when they competed at U18 Worlds.

While Canada had some strong opportunities in the third, the U.S. was the more dominant team, with 10 shots on goal to Canada’s five. But goalie Mari Pietersen (29 saves total) — plus a clutch save from the post — allowed the Canadians to hang on for a 3-2 win.

“Three goals is a big deficit,” said U.S. defender Sydney Morrow. “And in these games, which are super tight and back and forth, it’s hard to get that deficit back. But we gave it everything and we just fell a little short.”

“I dreamed about this moment, but I did not believe it would feel this good,” said defender Sara Swiderski, the lone Canadian named to the media all-star team.

The full all-star team includes players from four nations: goalie Emilia Kyrkko (FIN), defenders Swiderski (CAN) and Morrow (USA), and forwards Adela Sapovalivova (CZE), Laila Edwards (USA), and Sanni Vanhanen (FIN).

Edwards, who recorded four goals and four assists in Madison, was named tournament MVP.

With the win, Canada claims its sixth U18 women’s world title, and first since 2019. The U.S. still owns the most titles in U18 women’s world championship history (8).

Earlier on Monday, Finland defeated Sweden 3-0 to win the bronze medal.

More U18 Women’s Worlds: Full results and scores from this year’s tournament

This year’s U18 women’s world championship almost didn’t happen. In 2021, the U18 women’s tournament was the only top-level IIHF world championship event that was cancelled, even though the men’s U18 and U20 tournaments were held.

This year’s tournament was initially slated to be played in Sweden in January, but on December 24, 2021, the IIHF announced it was cancelling it due to surging omicron cases. After uproar from the women’s hockey community and questions about why the tournament was cancelled — rather than postponed — USA Hockey announced in March that it would be stepping up to hold the event.

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

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2022 U18 Women’s Worlds: Canada holds off U.S. comeback to win long awaited title originally appeared on NBCSports.com