Heartbreak on Home Soil for Dejected Canadians as US Wins Gold

Mark Staffieri@@MarkStaff100Contributor IIApril 10, 2013

Photo by Wayne Cuddington, Ottawa Citizen, Obtained from:http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/hockey/Photos+Women+gold+medal+game/8218915/story.html
Photo by Wayne Cuddington, Ottawa Citizen, Obtained from:http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/hockey/Photos+Women+gold+medal+game/8218915/story.html

Heading into the gold medal game of the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds, Canada never lost a final on home soil. The Canadians hosted past IIHF Worlds in 1990, 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2007—all gold medal finishes. With Shannon Szabados between the pipes and Hayley Wickenheiser donning the Captain’s "C" on her sweater, the Canadians were eager to make the home crowd proud.

Early on, the game had a physical tone. Brianna Decker had knocked down Canada’s Catherine Ward, and was then involved in shoving with Jocelyne Larocque. A few minutes later, Haley Irwin and Kacey Bellamy of the US both collided. Irwin struggled to maintain her balance and fell to the ice. The physical play continued as rookie Alex Carpenter from the US struggled with Wickenheiser in the corner for the puck.

In the first eight minutes of the period, Canada could only manage one shot on net. Szabados would find herself tested often as Decker and Kendall Coyne both shot at close range. Meghan Duggan also had a backhand shot in which Szabados reacted quickly to applause from the home crowd.

The Canadian offense would manage to regroup in the first frame. With Natalie Spooner weaving through traffic and Brianne Jenner hitting the post, the fans were reacting with cheers of encouragement. With 10:10 remaining, defender Courtney Birchard would release a slap shot that beat Vetter as Canada grabbed a 1-0 lead.

Before the period would end, Canada would enjoy a 5-on-3 power play. On said power play, Szabados would abandon her net in favor of an extra attacker. Jennifer Wakefield graced the ice for Canada but was unable to add to the lead. After one period, Canada was out-shot by a 12 to 8 margin but enjoyed the lead.

At 2:43 of the second stanza, Brianna Decker would shred the Canadian defense and beat Szabados on a highlight-reel goal. She faked Szabados and beat her on the glove side.

After the goal, Canada would encounter penalty problems. Tessa Bonhomme was called for hooking with 15:05 left. Despite being shorthanded, Canada was very aggressive on offense. Jennifer Wakefield and Rebecca Johnston both had strong scoring chances. Meaghan Mikkelson had an open net, but Jessie Vetter managed to block the sliding puck with her stick.

Penalty problems continued to plague Canada as Jocelyne Larocque was called for high sticking. Just 53 seconds after the penalty to Larocque had expired, Johnston was sent to the penalty box for body checking. It would be another 53 seconds afterwards when Hayley Wickenheiser was given an elbowing call.

As the US enjoyed a 5-on-3 power play, Megan Bozek released a slap shot that beat a screened Szabados. Assists were credited to Anne Schleper and Kendall Coyne. Before the period would expire, Caroline Ouellette would tie the game. She fired a laser beam and Vetter only caught part of the puck. Despite the score being tied, the US held a 24-10 advantage in shots on goal after two periods.

Early in the final frame, Amanda Kessel managed to give the US another lead. With Canada’s Lauriane Rougeau falling to the ice to try and block her shot, Kessel went top shelf on Szabados. Assists went to Gigi Marvin and Vetter.

Canada tried valiantly to bounce back and tie the score. Sarah Vaillancourt fired a wrist shot from long range. The puck bounced and nearly beat Vetter but she managed to keep the puck out of the net. Marie-Philip Poulin would follow with her own shot, but she hit the crossbar.

Jocelyne Larocque would glide across the ice to try and block a shot, but she ended up tripping a US player. Larocque was sent to the penalty box; the fans booed the decision.

With a sense of desperation, Canada tried to pressure. As the clock ticked down, Wakefield was near the US goal mouth and tried to score. Hefford also tried with a slap shot. Despite the pressure in the US zone, Vetter contained the Canadian charge on offense.

Although Canada played with an empty net in the final minute of play, the US managed to withstand the pressure. Courtney Birchard tried to duplicate her first period magic with a slap shot on Vetter but was denied. With less than 10 seconds, Meghan Agosta charged for the puck. As the fans were chanting for Agosta, she was unable to get control. Despite their best efforts, Canada could not tie the game as they were out-shot 30-16.