U.S.A. defends gold with OT win; single-game and full-tournament attendance records shattered
ST. CATHARINES, Ont. – It wasn’t the outcome they’d wanted, but as Canada’s National Under-18 Women’s Team stood at the blue line awaiting their silver-medal presentations, they linked arms in a final demonstration of the life-long bond built over the last seven days of competition.
The United States’ Natalie Snodgrass scored a late-period goal to send the gold-medal game into overtime, where she netted her second goal of the game to lift Team U.S.A. to its second consecutive championship title. For the second year in a row, Team Canada was defeated 3-2 in overtime, settling for silver.
“I think overall, we certainly had our opportunities to win the game as well,” said head coach Lisa Haley (Westville, N.S./Ryerson Univerity, OUA). “I really liked our third period pushback and we had a couple of great chances late [in the game] to be able to get that winning goal. In a game like this, it’s so close, it’s going to come down to a bounce. We weren’t able to capitalize on our bounces – and that’s the way the game is going to go when there’s two great opponents that match up so well together.”
Unlike in preliminary-round action where Team U.S.A. leveraged its power plays to gain the advantage over Team Canada, all five goals scored in the gold-medal game were scored at even strength. For the Canadian players, the highlights they’ll remember come as much from their off-ice experiences as the on-ice execution.
“It’s always an honour to play for Team Canada obviously, but I think I’m going to take away the whole experience and how to really come together as a team when it comes to the end,” said Emma Maltais (Burlington, Ont./Oakville, PWHL). “We leaned on each other, and I’m going to take away just the experience – that’s what’s incredible.”
In the bronze-medal game, Team Sweden – who finished fifth in the standings after the preliminary round – upset the third-placed Russians in a 2-1 victory to claim their fifth bronze medal in tournament history.
The 2016 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship is a showcase event for the future of women’s hockey and was hosted as part of a partnership between Hockey Canada, the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association, and the Niagara Sport Commission. Eight teams took part in the championship – Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.
St. Catharines sets new bar for attendance
The event’s single-game attendance record, set in 2012 in the Czech Republic, was broken twice in the first day of competition, and two more times after that – with the new record set at 5,516 during the gold-medal game. In all, 34,523 fans attended the 2016 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship.
“The support in St. Catharines and the Niagara region has been tremendous. The Meridian Centre and Seymour-Hannah Centre welcomed fans supporting all eight teams this week,” said Dean McIntosh, senior director of events and properties, Hockey Canada. “It’s a testament to how much the female game has grown and how exciting these match-ups have been to see us set a new bar for event attendance.”
Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team has appeared in every gold medal game at the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship, winning four gold medals (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014) and five silver (2008, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2016).