Canada had to find a different way to win the women’s world hockey title after winning an Olympic victory earlier this year and a gold medal at the World Championships a year ago.
This version was a work in progress throughout the tournament in Denmark, but Canada played their best game of the tournament in Sunday’s 2-1 win over arch rival the United States in the final.
The Canadian women won their third international title in a year’s span after beating the United States 3-2 for Olympic gold in February in Beijing, and 3-2 in overtime in the 2021 World Championships final just over a year ago.
“It wasn’t smooth. It looked a lot different from our Olympic win and our last World Championship win, but I think we’re really reassured when things aren’t going well we can find different ways to win,” Canadian striker Brian Jenner said. “We fought it off and got the job done.”
Watch | Jenner leads Canada after the United States to win the world title:
After a quiet tournament in the scoring department, Jenner scored two second-half goals within a minute of each other on Sunday.
Goalkeeper Ann-Renée Desbiens was the quiet eye of the storm in Storm 3 as the United States pushed hard to equalize.
The Canadians edged 12-6 in the third inning, but held off shots with the last two minutes given up when the USA pulled Nicole Hensley for an extra striker.
Despiens saved 20 balls to take the win, while Hensley stopped 17 shots.
“I think when we entered this tournament we had the confidence that we were the best team in the world,” Canadian striker Sarah Noris said.
“We really wanted to show it. Winning three gold medals in one year is something very special and something I don’t know we will be able to do again, but it just shows how hard our program has worked, where we are today.”
It’s Canada’s 12th gold at the tournament, and the first time in 18 years that it has won back-to-back world titles.
Find their shape
Canada lost 5-2 in the preliminary round to an American team that seemed poised to reclaim women’s hockey’s supremacy.
The Americans seemed to absorb the line-up changes faster than the Canadians, who had been juggling front-line combos throughout the tournament in an effort to find harmony.
Canada’s execution in the 8-1 win over the Swiss in the semi-final signaled that the defending champions are making a comeback.
But the United States was undefeated in the final by a goal difference of plus 47 compared to Canada plus 22, while Canada boasted of a strong attack in Beijing.
“What we were able to achieve at the Olympics was very special,” Jenner said. “To come six months after the Olympics, to be able to have summer training and regain focus and try to defend a world title, it’s not easy.
“I think that was one of the hardest things and we feel so good we found a way to get it done.”
In addition to moving the disc faster and cleaner than it did in the loss to the US, Canada also defended more stubbornly in the box between and below the standoff points.
Canada’s strong play went 0-for-2 in the first period before Jenner converted a third chance in the second. The US went 1 vs. 3 with a man advantage over the back half of the match.
American forward Abby Rocky, who scored her fourth power-playing goal of the tournament with less than a minute to play in the second half, accused the Canadians of diving.
“I think they have a lot of players walking around,” said Rocky. “I think it’s ridiculous. It’s not how we play hockey. We play a tough, disciplined game. That’s how we are.
“We want to play physically like hockey should be and have a lot of players jumping onto the boards.”
Rocky was born in Sault Ste. Mary, Michigan, but she is also a member of the Wahnapitae First Nation, near Sudbury, Ontario.
Canada and the United States have met in the final of all but one of the world championships since the inaugural tournament in Ottawa in 1990.
The United States won five consecutive world titles, as well as an Olympic gold in 2018, before the Canadian women over the past year pressed hard on the rope in the tug of war that was their rival.
“We have to find a way to turn the script,” said US captain Kendall Quinn Schofield.
Jenner’s nine goals in Beijing matched the Olympic record, but the veteran didn’t score in the world championships until Saturday’s semi-finals.
“I think my shooting percentage wasn’t great earlier in the tournament, but I kept telling myself if you create chances, have good habits and do something positive when you’re there, when you work hard sometimes you are rewarded in the end.”
The 2021 World Championships has been postponed to August due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The International Ice Hockey Federation introduced a first-class women’s championship in the same year that the Olympic Games for the first time compressed three major tournaments to just over 12 months away.
“Not normal,” said Canadian coach Troy Ryan, who will coach Canadian women until the 2026 Olympics.
“I don’t think you usually peak three times. That can be stressful. I feel this group. They’ve found grit. They’re undoubtedly exhausted. You can see it emotionally. They’re exhausted trying to level up three times. They deserve a lot of credit.” Just to stick to it.”
The 10-country field was in Denmark without Russia after it was banned by the IIHF from international tournaments due to that country’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Czech Republic reached the last four and a podium for the first time on Sunday, beating Switzerland 4-2 to take the bronze. The Czech was coached in Denmark by Calgary’s Carla McLeod, a former defender on the Canadian team.
Watch | Canada beat Switzerland in the semi-finals: