Canada edges Team USA to 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship gold

The Canadians won their 11th world title, and first since 2012, thanks to a thrilling golden goal in overtime.

By Virgílio Franceschi Neto
Picture by 2013 DEREK LEUNG

Marie-Philip Poulin helped Canada win its first Ice Hockey Women's World Championship in almost a decade on Tuesday (31 August) evening, as her goal in overtime sealed a thrilling 3-2 victory over the USA in the final.

In a rematch of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic final, it was the reigning Olympic silver medallists who ended the USA's streak of five-consecutive world titles.

That game could well be a precursor for the gold medal game at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in February.

The 2021 Women's World Championship

Originally scheduled to take place in April in the cities of Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada, the tournament was delayed to August and relocated to Calgary, the host city of the 1988 Winter Olympics.

Heading into the 2021 World Championships, 10 teams were split into two groups based on their respective world rankings:

Group A: USA Canada, Finland, Switzerland and ROC.

Group B: Czech Republic, Denmark, Japan, Germany and Hungary.

There were no surprises in the group stage as Canada and the USA won all of their games, with the exception of the final contest where Canada laid down a statement of intent with a thumping 5-1 victory over Team USA.

There was a shock in the quarter-finals as Switzerland, who had finished bottom of Group A with 0 points, managed to beat the ROC (who earlier beat them in the group stage) 3-2 in overtime to progress to the semi-finals.

Their reward was a meeting with Canada, who cruised through their own quarter-final against Germany, winning 7-0. The Swiss were powerless to cause another upset as they were undone by the sheer brilliance of the Canadians, who swept their opponents aside 4-0 to move on to the final against the USA (themselves 3-0 victors over 2019 silver medallists Finland).

The final

Canada vs Team USA is one of the biggest rivalries not only in ice hockey, but in world sport.

Since the women's championship made its debut in 1990, only two nations have won gold: Canada and the USA. In fact, there's only been one occasion where one of these teams failed to make the final (in 2019, when Finland beat Canada in the semi-finals).

It's been a similar story at the Olympic Games, as these two teams - which have been the dominant forces in women's hockey throughout the history of the sport - have combined to win every gold medal on offer at the competition.

Subsequently, it was no shock to see these two titans of ice hockey meet once again in the final of these world championships.

The United States entered the game on the back of an impressive streak of five consecutive world titles (not to mention their 2018 win over Canada in the Olympic final) as they sought to claim their 10th gold medal in the competition.

Canada, meanwhile, were looking to end their own drought of world titles, having last won gold in 2012 - not to mention seeking revenge over the USA for that loss in PyeongChang.

However, it was the Americans who struck first in the opening period, Alex Carpenter netting two goals to give the her team a a 2-0 cushion.

Canada came roaring back after the interval, scoring two goals in the space of three minutes with Brianne Jenner and Jamie Lee Rattray finding the back of the net to set up a grandstand finish in the third and final period.

However, both teams became cautious in their approach, and with no goal coming the contest headed into overtime where the first side to score would be crowned champions. Penalties would follow on from that.

But hosts went after their opponents in overtime, with the experienced Marie-Philip Poulin scoring the championship-clinching goal to send the fans at WinSport Arena into bedlam.

It's hard to put into words, to be honest. 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.” - Marie-Philip Poulin, captain of the Canadian national team, speaking after the game.

Marie-Philip Poulin of Canada scored the winning goal.
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Finland finishes third

Elsewhere, Finland became the first European finalist at the women's world championship when they won silver in 2019, and found themselves on the podium once more in 2021 after beating Switzerland 3-1 in the bronze medal game.

The bronze was Finland's 13th at the world championships, and follows on from their third-place finish at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

I'm proud. Once again, (goalkeeper Anni) Keisala played a great game. Obviously we played well. It was good to see Tanja and Ella score goals today. - Jenni Hiirikoski, captain of the Finnish national team, said after.

Mélodie Daoust wins MVP

Canadian forward Daoust finished as the joint-top scorer at the world championships with six goals (alongside Finland's Petra Nieminen), and was subsequently named the Most Valuable Player.

It was a fantastic tournament for the two-time Olympic medallist, who was competing in what was her second world championships after dealing with several injuries throughout her career.

Beijing 2022 women's ice hockey tournament

The women's ice hockey tournament at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games will take place from 11- 17 February 2022.

10 teams will participate in the competition, with seven nations already qualified based on their position in the world rankings of the International Ice Hockey Federation: Canada, USA, Finland, ROC, Switzerland and Japan in addition to the host nation, China.

The final three spots will be decided following the Olympic qualifying tournaments, which will take place in November.