Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Yanks' turn to celebrate

Stun Canada to claim world women's gold

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OTTAWA -- The United States applied the harsh lesson learned on home ice at the 2012 women's world hockey championship to Canada this time around.

The Americans thumped the Canadians 9-2 to open last year's tournament, only to suffer a 5-4 overtime loss in the final to their bitter rivals in Burlington, Vt.

The tables turned in Ottawa this year, with the U.S. losing to Canada in a shootout to open the tournament, before rebounding to win Tuesday's gold-medal game 3-2.

"Really, what matters is how to you finish the tournament," said American forward Amanda Kessel, who scored the game-winning goal. "I think we played our best game tonight."

The younger sister of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel pushed the U.S. ahead at 3:09 of the third period, roofing a shot on a 2-on-1 for one of two American goals scored off odd-man rushes.

That now makes for a pair of Kessels who are unpopular in Ottawa, and Amanda was unrepentant.

"It feels great," she said. "It couldn't feel any better."

The U.S. limited Canada to 16 shots on goaltender Jessie Vetter and fired 30 on Canada's Shannon Szabados, whose effort kept the host country in the game.

"If you look at the quality of chances they had compared to ours, they deserved to win," Canadian alternate captain Caroline Ouellette said. "With 16 shots on net, it's hard to win a hockey game.

The Americans have won four of the last five world women's titles and five of the last seven. Brianna Decker and Megan Bozek also scored for the U.S., which trailed 1-0 after the first period.

Courtney Birchard and Ouellette replied for Canada in front of 13,776 at Scotiabank Place.

Marie-Philip Poulin had two assists and led the tournament in scoring with six goals and six assists in five games. The 22-year-old from Beauceville, Que., was named the tournament's most valuable player and top forward.

"She was our best player from start to finish, no question," Canadian head coach Dan Church said.

Since Canada's 2-0 win over the U.S. to win Olympic gold in 2010, the teams have gone 8-8 against one another, with nine of those games decided by one goal.

The two countries have met in the finals at all 15 world championships held since 1990. Canada has won 10 times, but the Americans crept closer with their fifth overall.

The Canadian and American women will face each other at least half a dozen times next winter when both teams are training full-time for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

A schedule of games between the teams has yet to be announced, but a Dec. 20 date in Grand Forks, N.D., has already been confirmed by USA Hockey.

The two countries are bitter rivals in women's hockey, but are each other's favourite opponents because they bring out the best in each other and make for the most entertaining games in female hockey.

Tuesday's championship game was another tug-of-war. The Americans used their superior size on the blue-line to keep Canada's shooters to the outside.

The 2013 women's world hockey championship sold about 150,000 tickets, but because they were sold in packages, actual attendance was just under 100,000, according to organizers.

The 2007 championship in Winnipeg set a tournament attendance record of 119,231 and generated a profit of $751,000 for Hockey Canada and Hockey Manitoba.

The world championship in Ottawa will make a profit of at least $500,000, according to host committee vice-chair Cyril Leeder, of which 25 per cent will go to women's hockey in Ontario and the rest to Hockey Canada's development programs.


-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 10, 2013 C4

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