Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images
In an instant classic, the United States beat Finland, 2-1, in a shootout to capture its fifth straight gold at the IIHF Women’s World Championship on Sunday in Espoo, Finland.
In the first ever Women’s Worlds gold medal game that did not feature both North American teams, Finland proved to be a formidable foe for the United States. The first period ended scoreless, and the teams traded goals within 2:43 of each other in the second period – the only scoring in regulation. Overtime provided more drama, as Finland thought it had won gold and celebrated, only to have the goal called back. The United States then prevailed in the shootout.
Team USA outshot Finland, 17-4, in the opening period, generating chance after chance, but Noora Raty (CWHL Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays) stood tall, making a number of highlight-reel saves to keep Team USA off the board.
Annie Pankowski, the top overall pick in the 2018 NWHL Draft, finally broke the ice at 15:46 of the second period with a shot from the left circle. But Finland answered just 2:43 later, knotting the score back at one on a goal from Susanna Tapani.
The United States peppered Raty with 13 more shots in the third, but the score remained even at one, forcing overtime.
Finland celebrated after putting in a rebound past Alex Rigsby (CWHL Calgary Inferno), who was out of her crease, but after a long review, a penalty was assessed to the United States on the play and the goal was waived off. Finland looked to regroup and take advantage of the power play, but the United States kept them off the scoreboard, sending the game to the shootout.
Rigsby made the first two saves, as Amanda Kessel (NWHL Metropolitan Riveters) and Pankowski scored as the first two USA shooters. Finland scored on its third shooter, while Raty denied the next two Americans. Rigsby then made the final save to secure the win for the USA.
Raty finished with an incredible 50 saves for Finland, as the host country fought an incredible battle in front of more than 6,000 fans at Metro Areena.
“I’m extremely proud of our team tonight for playing their game while emotions were running high, in a loud building and against a team that played us incredibly hard,” said Team USA head coach Bob Corkum. “It’s been an honor to coach this team and a fantastic experience here in Espoo. We can’t thank the organizing committee enough for the hospitality over the past two weeks.”
Earlier in the day, Canada captured bronze with a 7-0 win over Russia.