For the first time in history, the championship game of the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship did not deliver a final between Team USA and Canada.
But it still delivered plenty of dramatics.
Just like the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, which the U.S. won nearly 14 months ago, the final went to overtime and then a shootout.
A save by U.S. goalie Alex Rigsby, a 2018 Olympic gold medalist, in the final round of the shootout Sunday clinched a fifth consecutive world championship for Team USA against host Finland with a 2-1 win.
Annie Pankowski and Amanda Kessel scored for the U.S. in the first two rounds of the shootout. Team USA was up 2-1 in the shootout when Rigsby stopped Finland’s final attempt by Susanna Tapani.
Finland nearly won the game with 8:27 left in the 20-minute overtime period, but its goal was waved off by the officials following a review.
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The world championship marked the fifth straight title for Team USA, which also won the Olympic gold one year ago. The world championship team was stacked with 14 members of the 2018 Olympic team and 17 Olympians overall.
Pankowski, who was playing in her third world championship, put the U.S. ahead 1-0 with a goal late in the second period. Her score, coming with 4:14 left in the period, was set up by 2018 Olympic gold medalists Kendall Coyne Schofield and Emily Pfalzer.
Less than three minutes later, Finland’s Tapani tied the score at 1-1. That goal was the first allowed by the U.S. in five games.
The U.S. had dominated play in the tournament entering Sunday’s final, winning six consecutive games by a combined 39-4 score.
Canada, which had played Team USA in every world championship final dating back to 1990, won the bronze medal on Sunday, defeating Russia 7-0.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.