BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – Sarah Paul (West Kelowna, B.C./Pursuit of Excellence, CSSHL) scored in the third period to force overtime, but Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team fell 2-1 to the United States on Thursday in the gold medal game at the 2020 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship.
It is a reversal of fortunes for the Canadians, who won gold a year ago with an extra-time win over the U.S.
The Americans took a first-period lead on a power-play goal from Abbey Murphy. After an attempted clear by Canada, Murphy fired in a shot from the slot that found its way through traffic and past Ève Gascon (Terrebonne, Que./Collège Esther-Blondin, LHMAAAQ).
Canada had chances in the second to find the equalizer, but couldn’t solve U.S. netminder Skylar Vetter, who stoned Émilie Lussier (Sainte-Martine, Que./Lac St-Louis, LHEQ) and Ann-Frédérik Naud (Joliette, Que./John Abbott College, CEGEP) on point-blank chances in the middle frame.
At the other end of the ice, Gascon was sensational between the pipes for Canada; she made a number of key saves of her own to keep the Canadians within reach, including sprawling out to stop Murphy in the final minute of the first period.
Canada finally broke through with a power-play tally five-and-a-half minutes into the third period. Naud fired a quick pass from behind the net to Paul, who was all alone out front and wasted no time in snapping a shot past Vetter.
The Canadians started overtime with 1:40 of power-play time but couldn’t solve Vetter.
The two teams went back and forth in the three-on-three extra period, but Gascon and Vetter came up huge time and time again to keep the game tied. The Canadian goaltender got a little bit of additional help from a couple of posts.
The U.S. finally ended it with just over three minutes left in overtime when Maggie Nicholson forced a turnover at the defensive blue-line and raced away on a 2-on-0 before dishing to Kiara Zanon for the game-winner.
Following the game, a pair of Canadians were named to the media all-star team – defenceman Kendall Cooper (Burlington, Ont./Stoney Creek, PWHL) and forward Jenna Buglioni (Port Moody, B.C./Greater Vancouver, BCFMAAA).