The Team USA women were in a world of hurt Monday during their hard-fought semi-final game against Finland at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Canada. Action took place in a pivotal contest of the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championship.
Many in the announced crowd of 4,035 were Canadians, naturally, and they were rooting for Finland to upset the Americans. There was a real sense the U.S. might lose the game when 23-year-old Finn goalie Noora Raty stopped all 34 shots in the first two periods.
It was scoreless 0-0 after two.
Raty, of course, was the goalie that blanked Team USA 1-0 in the 2008 worlds in China—which is still the only U.S. loss to Finland in 14 world championship meetings dating to 1992. And Raty backstopped the Minnesota Golden Gophers to two straight NCAA titles, the most recent capping a 41-0-0 season. She won her final 49 games for the Gophers.
Yet Knight, 23, changed the game’s tempo.
She broke a scoreless tie at 13:55 of the third period to send the U.S. on their way to a 3-0 win over Finland.
It put the USA into today’s gold medal game (5:30 p.m. Mountain Time) against defending champ Canada—the 15th time in 15 IIHF world championships the two teams have met for the gold medal.
“It’s always nice to score a goal when your team needs it most,” said Knight about her first goal in four games at worlds. And Team USA has struggled putting the puck in the net this tournament, outscoring opponents 14-5 in three wins and one shootout loss.
That shootout loss by a 3-2 score came to Team Canada on Tuesday, April 2 in the opening game of the eight-team tournament. Since, Canada (32-3 goals against) has walloped Switzerland 13-0, Finland 8-0 and Russia 8-1.
With its 32 goals in four games on its home ice, Team Canada boasted eight of the tournament’s top 10 scorers.
Knight, this year’s Canadian Women’s Hockey League Most Valuable Player who starred on the league champion Boston Blades, had been blanked on the Team USA scoresheet until she assisted on Alex Carpenter’s power-play goal that opened the 5-0 U.S. win over Switzerland Friday in the final game of the preliminary round.
But, on Monday, U.S. “Player of the Game” Knight finished a nice passing play with Gigi Marvin and Amanda Kessel to finally solve red-hot Finnish goalie Raty, who had stopped the first 38 American shots. Monique Lamoureux and Brianna Decker added goals.
Team USA out-shot Finland 43-11. The outcome sent the Finns up against Russia in today’s third-place game.
Ten-time world champ Canada, the defending champion, entered the gold medal game as the favorite. Canada and four-time champ Team USA are the only teams to have won world championship tournaments.
The most recent Canada victory over Team USA brought back painful memories to the Americans of their 5-4 overtime loss to Canada in the world gold medal game last April at Burlington, Vt.
Earning fifth place in the 2013 world championships was Germany 5-3 over Switzerland. Sweden won the relegation round with 2-1 and 4-0 victories over the Czech Republic.