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2016 IIHF U18 Women’s Hockey: USA takes GOLD in OT Thriller again

I’ve been writing how it would be impossible for this tournament to have the same dramatic ending as last year in Buffalo.

Boy was I wrong.

USA for the second straight year has taken home the gold in Overtime.

Natalie Snodgrass was this years hero as she buried a backhander less than 2 minutes into the first OT period.

FLAP9778“I was in the right spot at the right time … I threw my gloves in the air!” Snodgrass said joyfully.

Its hard to put in to words what we saw tonight at the sold out Meridian Centre in St. Catharines.

Team Canada made all the right adjustments after being heavily outplayed in a 4-1 loss to the US on Monday.

The Canadians played a smarter team game. They were able to keep the US to the outside for most of the game. They also made sure to get pucks deep in the American zone.

The biggest difference is that they were able to finish their chances. Jamie Bourbonnais put Canada on the board late in the first. And early in the second Daryl Watts extended the lead to 2-0. 

American goalie Alex Gulstene made multiple blind saves early in the period to keep USA within reach. Canada could have found themselves up 3-0 or 4-0 easily.

The big turning point came when American Alex Woken stole a puck and head in on a half breakaway. She let it fly and it found the back of the net to get USA back to within 1.

The third period was back and forth with both teams trading chances.

As pressure from the Americans mounted, Natalie Snodgrass was able to put one past Canadian keeper Stephanie Neatby to tie the game at 2.

Alex Gulstene came up with a couple huge stops with less than 10 seconds to go to get USA to the overtime period.

Then the stage was set.

1:47 into the overtime period, the US were able to get the puck to the net and big rebound came to Snodgrass and she made no mistake.

USA would be wearing the gold for a second straight year. By the same score. And also in Overtime.

Congrats to all the teams. Canada were not as strong as the United States this year but they made the adjustments and came so close to pulling off the gold medal victory. They should be commended for their effort. Also a congrats to Team Sweden who defeated Russia 2-1 earlier for the Bronze medal.

The city of St Catharines, Hockey Canada, and the IIHF put on another marvelous event. Hopefully we will see you all next year.

Lastly here is my All Tournament Team

G – Emma Soderberg (SWE)
F – Alina Muller (SUI)
F – Ashton Bell (CAN)
F –  Fanuza Kadirova (RUS)
D – Cayla Barnes (USA)
D – Jessica Adolfsson (SWE)
MVP – Natalie Snodgrass (USA)

 

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U18 Women’s Hockey: Dunne’s OT laser gives USA GOLD

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You simply could not have asked for a better ending to an already great tournament at Harborcenter.

51 seconds into overtime of the Gold Medal game against Canada, the sea parted for USA captain Jincy Dunne and she walked right into the slot with the puck.

“I was just trying to put it on net,” Dunne said after. “Anything can happen when you shoot.”

And that she did. Right into the top left corner.

Gold.

With that the US bench emptied onto the ice and created a pileup in the corner. Gloves and sticks were scattered everywhere. The celebration was on.

The Americans become the first team to win the Women’s U18 tournament on home soil and also broke Canada’s three year run at the top.

The game started out with the Canadians in full control. Scoring early on a US giveaway, they would hold a 1-0 lead late into the first.

But Captain America, #3 Jincy Dunne had her first moment. She took the puck from behind her own net, skated around 2 players and finished her end to end rush with a sick back hander top shelf to even the game at 1.

That goal started a tidal wave of US momentum that carried into the 2nd period.

Alyssa Gorecki finished a nice centering feed to give the US the 2-1 lead early in the second.

But despite the Americans dominance including a 20-2 shot advantage in the period, the Canadians chipped one in just minutes later.

We would continue the 2-2 deadlock throughout the third period.

However Canada began to show some fatigue late taking 4 minor penalties in the last 10 minutes. All credit to their penalty killers as the US could get nothing going on any of them.

The last penalty with under a minute to play in regulation would prove costly.

Overtime begins 4 on 4 so the power play gave the US a 4 on 3 to kick things off. Dunne made no mistake with her first shot attempt.

One of the most unforgettable international moments I will probably ever witness in person.

The sellout crowed, which was pro-American, was unbelievable. The building was so loud after the game winning goal I could have sworn we just won the Olympic gold!

 

Closing thoughts:

Congratulations to all of the teams who participated. Congrats to Russia who won the Bronze medal earlier in the day as well. The Harborcenter put on one hell of a show. Thanks to the IIHF and Sabresfans for allowing me access to cover the event. The fans were great the entire tournament and we showed up in strong numbers.

The hockey was great, to anyone who wasnt able to attend but caught the fever after USA won gold, next years tournament will be in St. Catherines! Just down the road in the Niagara Region!

The Canadians were a good match but it was TEAM USA on this day. Gold Medal. Congrats ladies!

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Photo: Francois Laplante / HHOF-IIHF Images

Header Photo: Courtesy Buffalo Sabres

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