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USA women's hockey beats Canada in OT to win world championship

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AP

USA women's hockey beats Canada in OT to win world championship

PLYMOUTH, Mich. (AP) -- The U.S. women's hockey players threw their sticks and gloves in the air and celebrated, capping an emotionally charged two-week stretch with a 3-2 overtime win over Canada in the women's world championship final Friday night.

Hilary Knight made the postgame party possible by scoring 10:17 into the extra period to make the Americans winners on and off the ice. After threatening to sit out the tournament, they won a contentious fight with USA Hockey for better wages that will allow the country's best female hockey players to make a living playing the sport.

"I'm so proud of this team for performing the way we did after battling the way we did off the ice," said Meghan Duggan, the Americans' captain. "A lot of history was made."

The U.S. won its fourth straight world championship title and eighth in the last 10 tries against their rivals, who will get their shot at revenge as defending Olympic champions next year in South Korea.

Brianne Jenner tied it at 2 for Canada midway through the third period on a power play after Kacey Bellamy's second goal early in the period gave the Americans their first lead in the gold-medal game.

The U.S. had two power plays in the third period with 7:24 and 2:24 left along with another power play early in OT, but couldn't capitalize on the opportunities to score a go-ahead goal with an extra skater.

Canada's Meghan Agosta scored 1:01 into the game, and Bellamy tied it 3 1/2 minutes later.

Nicole Hensley stopped 28 shots for the U.S.

Canada's goaltender, Shannon Szabados, was tested much more and made 37 saves.

"She was unbelievable," Agosta said. "She kept us in the game."

The Americans boldly said they would boycott the tournament, which would've embarrassed USA Hockey at a tournament held in an arena named after the organization, if they didn't get more money and perks their male counterparts get such as flying in business class and staying at nice hotels. The landmark deal allows them to make more than $70,000 during non-Olympic years and as much as $129,000 in Olympic years, including 2018, when combined with contributions from the United States Olympic Committee.

"We knew that was going to be a bond that was unbreakable," Knight said.

USA Hockey looked like it tried to break the unified front of American women, trying to find lower-caliber players to take their spots in the world championship if Plan B became necessary.

"They didn't want to forgo this opportunity, but they were willing to do it," Dee Spagnuolo, one of the attorneys who represented the women without a fee, said during the first intermission at USA Hockey Arena. "Every time we huddled up to make tough decisions before and during negotiations, they were united and firm. This team off the ice is so united and in adverse, tense situations in games, it helps them win on the ice, too."

The U.S. carried the momentum from the win against USA Hockey into the eight-nation tournament by dominating the competition until their rivals pushed them into OT.

The Americans were the better team in the end, though, creating lots of scoring chances in the sudden-death period that could have lasted up to 20 minutes. They didn't need that much time to finish the Canadians off with a second straight OT victory in a world championship gold-medal game.

Knight, who made a no-look, between-the leg pass to set up Bellamy's second goal, was trailing on a 3-on-2 rush when Coyne dropped a pass to her and she scored from the inside of the left circle. In the 2011 world championship final, Knight also scored the gold-medal winning goal in OT.

"She's one of the best in the world and she comes up big when you need her and the moment is huge," Bellamy said. "That's what's what make her so special. When everything is on the line, she comes through clutch."

When Knight lit the goal lamp, the jubilant Americans screamed with joy and hugged in a huge huddle.

"Nothing compares to a gold-medal game against Canada," Bellamy said. "The emotions are so high. The energy in the building was incredible and it was a really fast-paced game and we had to fight to the end."

The Canadians, meanwhile, skated in the other direction. They rested their gloves on their knees and stared at the ice in silence as a sold-out crowd at USA Hockey Arena roared.

In the beginning of the tournament, Canada struggled before rallying to face off against the Americans as they've done in all 18 world championships. The Canadians opened with a 2-0 loss to the U.S. and a stunning, 4-3 setback against Finland before bouncing back with an 8-0 rout of Russia and a 4-0 win over the Finns in the semifinals.

"We were resilient the whole tournament," Agosta said.

Why Blackhawks are eager for 'heck of an opportunity' ahead of NHL's restart

Why Blackhawks are eager for 'heck of an opportunity' ahead of NHL's restart

When the NHL paused its season on March 12, the Blackhawks had a 2.6 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to Hockey Reference. They were six points out of the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference and had four teams to jump, which would have been virtually impossible with only three weeks of hockey left.

But because of the financial ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the league was forced to get creative about its Return to Play plan and announced a 24-team format in May. The Blackhawks, as we know, were the final team in the West to get in.

And while it may not feel like their postseason drought has ended, the Blackhawks won't apologize for it. They've been handed a gift and want to take advantage of this new life.

"It's a heck of an opportunity," Jonathan Toews said after Day 1 of training camp. "We were kind of going down that road where our playoff chances were dwindling. It would've been a long-shot otherwise, but we were able to sneak in under these rules and under this format, so it's an opportunity for all of us. Regardless of whether there's fans in the building or not, there's something to play for."

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Blackhawks news and analysis.

You won't find a bigger competitor than Duncan Keith, who's a two-time Norris Trophy winner and wears his emotions on his sleeve. He wants to get back to playing consistent playoff hockey and is as motivated about the restart as anyone. Just check his Instagram page.

"The biggest thing is just the fact that we're getting a chance to compete and be in the playoffs," Keith said. "You go back to the regular season, we were several points out and it wasn't looking good. Now we're in this opportunity — it's a great opportunity for us to try to prove that we deserve to be in the playoffs. ... We know we've got our work cut out for us, but I think as a group, we're excited to have this opportunity and show that we belong and that we could make some noise as an underdog."

On one end of the spectrum, you have a group of multiple Stanley Cup winners hungry to play meaningful hockey again. On the other end, you have a group of young players that haven't had a taste of the postseason yet and are itching to find out, even though there won't be any fans in attendance.

Put the groups together and you have a hungry Blackhawks squad that's eager to show they can make a potential run.

"It's good experience for everyone because the veteran guys that have played a lot of playoff hockey have never been through something like this before and the young guys who have never played in the playoffs, there's no better opportunity to try and get your feet wet and try and show your teammates what you can do," Toews said. "So, every game, that thought of the Cup being on the line has to be in the back of your mind. You win one game, there's no telling how far you can go, so we'll really try and build that feeling and that mindset in the locker room over the next couple weeks before we start."

Podcast: Corey Crawford deemed "unfit to play" by the Blackhawks

Podcast: Corey Crawford deemed "unfit to play" by the Blackhawks

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford was not at practice for the Hawks' Day 1 of Phase 3 training camp as they prepare to play the Edmonton Oilers and was deemed "unfit to play" according to Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton and GM Stan Bowman. On this fresh Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis, and Scott King discuss what the NHL's new term "unfit to play" means and if Crawford be able to get ready before the matchup vs the Oilers. Later on, the crew gives their thoughts on what they saw from Hawks practice and what Brent Seabrook looked like on the ice after being out since December following three surgeries.

(1:30) - Jeremy Colliton and Stan Bowman on Corey Crawford being "unfit to play"

(6:38) - Who can replace Corey Crawford if he isn't available to play?

(12:00) - How did Brent Seabrook look on the ice after being out?

(17:00) - Jonathan Toews has a new appreciation for Chicago, and hockey

(22:00) - More news and tidbits from Hawks practice

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Blackhawks news and analysis.