Women's Worlds: United States 2, Canada 3 (OT)
In a way, it was fittingly poetic that Canada’s gold-medal victory celebration was delayed just a tad longer than necessary on Tuesday night in Calgary.
No stranger to big moments, captain Marie-Philip Poulin streaked down the wing about seven-and-a-half minutes into three-on-three overtime in the women’s world hockey championship gold-medal game, sniping a shot bar down. The puck was in the net, but the goal light did not indicate a goal.
A minute later – surely the longest such minute in history for Canadian hockey fans as they awaited a video review of the play – the buzzer sounded, indicating that Poulin’s shot was indeed in the net and had, in fact, ended the tournament with a 3-2 overtime victory at Canada Olympic Park.
The gold-medal game win over the defending champion United States gives Canada its first women’s worlds title since 2012.
The tournament hosts had persevered for nine years in a bid to taste gold once again, having to settle for bronze in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the tournament in 2020 and then the women’s worlds were almost cancelled for 2021 when Nova Scotia nixed the event in April. The tournament was resurrected in Calgary in late August but many obstacles nearly blocked Canada’s trek to the gold medal. So what was another few seconds really going to hurt?
“It’s hard to put into words, to be honest,” Poulin said after the game.
“The team showed up tonight. I think we stayed resilient. We stayed to our way. We stayed to our game. It was amazing. A team effort all around.”
Did Poulin know that her snipe in OT was actually a goal?
“I kind of knew it was in, but you have to wait until the buzzer happened,” Poulin said.
“When the buzzer happened in the middle of the play, to be honest I wasn’t sure how to react. Do we jump on on the ice, do we jump on each other?”
“She just finds ways to step it up in big games,” Canada head coach Troy Ryan said.
Poulin had missed the previous group stage matchup against the United States – a 5-1 win for Canada as they finished the tournament undefeated in round-robin play – after taking a blocked shot off her throat while killing a penalty against Switzerland.
“I thought yesterday [in a 4-0 semifinal win over Switzerland Monday] she was outstanding. Tonight she was outstanding. When she had that puck streaking through the middle, who else do you want to have [it] on their stick than Poulin. It’s amazing how many big goals she has scored for Canada over her career, so we’re just glad she’s on our side.”
Throughout the tournament (Canada went undefeated, outscoring opponents 34-7), Ryan emphasized the team’s internal culture and their process of integrating eight newcomers onto the roster. That process, administered by leaders like Poulin and Brianne Jenner, was on full display during Tuesday’s win when Canada ended the opening 20 minutes down 2-0 and when they felt they had turned a corner.
“For me, it was something that people watching wouldn’t have seen,” said Jenner, who ended the tournament second in scoring with 11 points, behind only teammate Melodie Daoust.
“It was the way we came back into the dressing room after the first period. We were actually pretty happy with our start. Obviously, you don’t want to be down 2-0, but we were playing our way and just the calm from the veterans, from the rookies, just everyone in the room. At that point we were like, ‘Okay. We all believe we can do this.’”
“If you look at that score, we’re down 2-0 after the first, to be honest, my message was, ‘I don’t think there would be many people in the building that thought we were getting outplayed at that time,’” Ryan said of the first intermission.
“The score said 2-0, but we were comfortable with our period and we knew that if we just kept sticking with it, good things would eventually happen.”
After overtime officially ended, the well-prepared disk jockey in the Calgary arena had the Arkells’ “Years In The Making” play on the loudspeakers as the postgame party began on the ice.
“I see it in your eyes, it's something you believe
You got the scars to show
It didn't come for free
It's been years in the making
And I'd do it over again.
It's been years in the making,” the chorus goes.
It’s an all-too-familiar theme for Jenner, one of just a handful of 2021 Team Canada players who were on the 2012 championship team.
“It’s been a hard journey for this group,” she said.
“This win tonight is not just the players that are on the roster right now, but the players that were with us the last couple of years. There’s a lot of overtimes that didn’t go our way, but I think we took some big steps in this past year especially. I credit a lot of it to Gina’s [Kingsbury, Hockey Canada director of hockey operations] leadership, Troy’s leadership and just setting the path.
“It feels pretty good but it’s a win that goes beyond this group. It’s something special for us.”