Sun Valley’s Hilary Knight and Team USA made more history last week during the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championship hockey tournament at Espoo, Finland.
Team USA completed its “Drive for Five” Sunday with a thrilling and controversial 2-1 shootout win over Finland in the gold medal game before 6,053 spectators at Metro Areena. It was the fifth consecutive world championship gold for Team USA, and eighth world gold in nine tourneys.
The Americans (7-0) outscored world opponents 41-5.
Boosted by her five-point semi-final effort in Team USA’s 8-0 semi-final victory over Russia Saturday, Knight emerged as the 10-team tournament’s top scorer with 7 goals and 4 assists (+13). She scored at least one goal in each of USA’s first six games.
The 5-11, 172-pound forward from University of Wisconsin made her American record-breaking 51st women’s world championship start in Saturday’s 8-0 semi-final triumph.
Named American “Player of the Game” in the semi-final, Knight, 29, now has 43 world championship goals, which pulled her within one of 1998 Olympic captain Cammi Granato’s 44 Team USA world goals.
Knight was named to the World Media All-Star team as forward, along with teammate Kendall Coyne Schofield (named Best Forward) and Finland’s Michelle Karvinen.
Tournament MVP was Finland defenseman Jenni Hiirikoski (2 goals/8 assists), who tied for second behind Knight in total points with Canada’s Natalie Spooner (6 goals/4 assists). Best Goalie was Finland’s Noora Raty, 29, the two-time national champion with University of Minnesota.
Raty was brilliant in Finland’s 4-2 semi-final upset of Team Canada and also in the gold medal game. The Americans out-shot Finland 51-27, but Raty was brilliant in the net including 14 saves in the 20-minute, four-on-four overtime.
Finland appeared to score the game-winning goal with 8:27 left in overtime. But Petra Nieminen’s apparent score after a Hiirikoski end-to-end rush was disallowed on video review due to non-incidental goaltender interference, the IIHF explained in a statement.
Rising American star Annie Pankowski, WCHA Player of the Year for the national champion University of Wisconsin in March, scored twice for Team USA including the shootout winner. USA made two shootout goals to the one by Finland’s Minttu Tyominen.
USA goalie Alex Rigsby (26 saves) conceded just the one goal in four shootout attempts and posted a record fifth world win in a single championship.