What a difference a day makes. Less than 24 hours after falling to Canada 3-2 in the final round-robin game of the tournament, the United States women’s ice hockey team turned the tables to down their perennial rival 5-3 Saturday and successfully defend their Four Nations Cup title at Jarvenpaa Arena in Vierumaki, Finland.
The win gives the U.S. its second consecutive Four Nations gold medal, the fourth in the past six years and seventh title in the tournament’s history. It also marks the second time in the calendar year that the Americans have forced their rivals to settle for silver after defeating them on their home ice at the 2016 world championships.
Unlike Friday’s encounter, it was Canada that opened the scoring, as Marie-Philip Poulin found the goal at 3:40 into the contest for the early lead. The U.S. was aggressive offensively, peppering Canadian goalkeeper Emerance Maschmeyer with 13 shots in the first 20 minutes, two of which found the net. Emily Pfalzer drew the Americans level at the 16:51 mark off Haley Skarupa’s fourth assist of the tournament, then Brianna Decker fed team captain Hilary Knight, who tallied at 18:10 to put her team up 2-1, a score that stood through the second period.
With the gold medal on the line, the third period turned into a pitched battle that saw Canada draw even at the 45:50 mark when Laura Stacey scored, but the U.S. answered in less than a minute on Decker’s single-handed effort at 46:43. Knight then flashed the form that has earned her two Olympic silver medals and five world titles, combining with Decker to catch Canada on a line change. She challenged Maschmeyer one-on-one for her second goal of the game at 49:46.
Kendall Coyne padded the margin two minutes later, pushing the lead to 5-2 and effectively taking the wind out of Canada’s sail. Poulin added her second goal of the contest at 59:20 for the final 5-3 score.