WILDFANG SCORES OT GAME-WINNER AGAINST RUSSIA; CANADA TO GO FOR THIRD STRAIGHT U18 WORLDS GOLD
BUDAPEST, Hungary – Canada will go for gold again at the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship.
But that fate wasn’t set in a stone, a fact proven by Russia in Saturday’s semifinal, as it took just over 63 minutes until the red and white were finally able to crack the scoreboard at the Budapest Ice Center and earn their berth in Sunday’s gold medal game with a 1-0 victory.
Canadian captain Lauren Wildfang (Waterdown, Ont./Toronto, PWHL) scored the game-winner, with assists from Rebecca Leslie (Ottawa, Ont./Ottawa, PWHL) and Karly Heffernan (Sherwood Park, Alta./Pursuit of Excellence, JWHL), although it was hard to tell whose stick the puck went off of as a sea of red and white jerseys crashed the net, and when the puck cross the goal line, piled on top of each other as they celebrated in the Russian end.
“That’s all that matters,” Wildfang said of the puck going into the net, rather than who actually put it there. “We were just planning on putting everything to net, and everyone go the net, and then hoping something went it; we knew their goalie was playing really well that game.
“We knew that it wasn’t going to necessarily be the prettiest goal,” she added. “All it was, was a shot, a rebound and a shot again, and it trickled in, and that’s all we could ask for.”
Russian goaltender Valeria Tarakanova made an incredible 69 saves to help keep Russia in the running and send the game into the extra frame. But Canadian netminder Shea Tiley (Shallow Lake, Ont./Waterloo, PWHL) was just as outstanding between the posts, making some key saves and turning away 24 shots to earn her player of the game honours.
Both teams battled hard from the first puck drop until Canada’s OT goal, with the Russians repeatedly denying Canada’s offensive attempts and getting a couple of solid breakaways and two-on-ones that could have easily turned the game into the other direction.
But in the end, this semifinal belonged to Canada, which will go for its third straight gold medal tomorrow at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship in Budapest, with its opponents to be determined by today’s other semifinal between the Czech Republic and the United States.
The puck drops on this year’s gold medal game at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT on Sunday.