Intense. Fun. Exciting. Those are the words that have been used to describe what will go down on Tuesday night. And, yes, it will surely be all that and more because the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship culminates with one of hockey’s biggest rivalries: Canada and the United States in a gold-medal showdown. Buckle up.
“I’m so proud of this team and this group and we’ve worked really hard to get to where we are and we’re right where we want to be. But, we’re not done yet,” said Canada’s Renata Fast, who thinks her squad has yet another level they can bring to Tuesday’s game.
The Americans will surely be doing just that after getting dominated by the Canadians in the preliminary round 5-1.
“We got away from our game. In fact, we never played our game and I think that’s what went wrong,” USA captain Kendall Coyne Schofield said matter-of-factly after the United States’ lone loss of the tournament, where her team struggled to generate offense.
And don’t expect the Americans to come out flat again. The last time these two teams met for the top prize was the 2018 Winter Olympics, which saw the United States win 3-2 in a dramatic shootout — and in that tournament, USA Hockey lost in the preliminary round 2-1 to the Canadians.
Canada enters the finale on a six-game winning streak — yep, they haven’t lost a single game — and hopes to stop the Americans from winning a sixth-straight gold at the women’s worlds. This will be the 19th time these two teams have met in the gold-medal game, with Canada winning 10 times. They did not play in 2019, as Canada was upset in the semifinals by Finland.
MORE: Canada sets up gold-medal showdown with USA after semifinal win
Several players return from that disappointed Canadian squad, including captain Marie-Philip Poulin and Mélodie Daoust, who leads the tournament with 12 points (six goals and six assists). She and linemates Natalie Spooner (nine points) and Sarah Fillier (five points) have been key cogs for the Canadian offense. On the U.S. side, Hilary Knight has been making history alongside a team-high four goals and six points. She is tied with Grace Zumwinkle — who is making her debut — atop the American leaderboard in goals; she also ties Zumwinkle and Lee Stecklein in points.
It has been almost a decade since Canada last won gold at worlds (2012). Can they reclaim the top prize, or will the Americans keep rolling? A lot is on the line — not just gold — as this game plants the seeds for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Sporting News had all the action as the United States and Canada reignited their rivalry on the ice with the gold medal on the line (all times Eastern):
Canada vs. USA score, highlights from 2021 Women’s World Championship gold-medal game
8:35 p.m. — PP GOAL. Nicole Hensley makes the save on the high shot but can’t control the rebound and Brianne Jenner picks up the loose puck and puts it around the goalies pad. USA leads 2-1.
8:33 p.m. — USA gets called for a faceoff violation and Canada heads to the power play. Canada’s power play has been, to put it nicely, not good at 3-for-23.
8:32 p.m. — USA buzzing around the Canadian net and Desbiens makes a number of stops to keep it a two-goal game.
8:31 p.m. — Canada comes close but Sarah Fillier just misses the net.
8:29 p.m. — Middle frame puck has been dropped.
First period: USA 2, Canada 0
8:11 p.m. — Period comes to an end. USA leads 2-0 on the scoreboard and 8-6 in shots. Canada didn’t have the same jump as the preliminary game and USA capitalized on rebound chances.
8:04 p.m. — Rebecca Johnston off the rush rings one off the post and Hensley jumps on the puck before it goes off her body and over the line.
8:01 p.m. — Great shot by Victoria Bach as she gets behind the defense but Hensley makes the save.
7:59 p.m. — PP GOAL. Alex Carpenter again! This time she cleans up the loose puck after the shot by Lee Stecklein from the point handcuffs Desbiens. USA leads 2-0.
7:58 p.m. — Friendly reminder: Women’s hockey is physical.
7:57 p.m. — USA gets a power play as Jocelyne Larocque called for kneeing.
7:52 p.m. — GOAL. Alex Carpenter gets her own rebound and buries it. USA leads 1-0.
7:50 p.m. — Canada up 4-1 in shots but they’re not testing Hensley too much.
7:44 p.m. — Lots of tight checking and not much room. Just five minutes in and Canada has the shot advantage, 2-1.
7:43 p.m. — Much different start to this one than the preliminary game.
7:38 p.m. — Game on!
6:33 p.m. — Alex Cavallini got the start in the preliminary round against Canada and was pulled. Nicole Hensley gets the nod and will be in between the pipes on Tuesday. Ann-Renée Desbiens, who has been a force for the Canadians, will be in net.