U.S. wins 5th straight Women’s World title in controversial game
Members of the U.S. Women’s team celebrate their win over Cleveland on Sunday.
The United States Women’s team won its fifth consecutive Women’s World Championship gold medal with a hard-fought and controversial 2-1 shootout win in Espoo, Finland on Sunday.
But the victory was not against arch-rival Canada.
It came against host Finland, which upset Canada 4-2 on Saturday in the semifinal round and, of course, had the loud and raucous support of most of the announced 6,053 in attendance.
Amanda Kessel and Annie Pankowski scored in the shootout for the U.S., which won all of its seven games in the tournament. But it’s what happened in the 4-on-4 overtime that caused the controversy.
It appeared Finland had won the championship when Petra Nieminen scored with little less than nine minutes left in OT. But the goal was overturned when officials ruled that Finnish captain Jenni Hiirikoski interfered with U.S. goalie Alex Rigsby, despite the fact that Rigsby was then given a minor penalty for tripping Hiirikoski.
Team USA killed off Finland’s power play to set up the shootout heroics.
“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 U.S. Women’s coach Bob Corkum on the USA Hockey website.
Finland goalie Noora Raty was spectacular with 50 saves – the United States outshot Finland 51-27 – after stopping 43 in the semifinal win over Canada the previous day.
Both goals in regulation came within 2:44 of each other late in the second period.
Pankowski finally solved Raty with 4:14 left in the second to give Team USA a 1-0 lead but Susanna Tapani tied it with 1:30 remaining in the period.
Rigsby made 26 saves.
The U.S. defeated Russia 8-0 in the semifinal on Saturday. Canada beat Russia 7-0 to win the bronze medal on Sunday morning.
Pankowski was named player of the game for the U.S., and Kendall Coyne Schofield was named the tournament's best forward.