Canada holds on to beat U.S. for gold in U18 women’s hockey final

Jade Iginla celebrates an assist during a Canada's national women's under-18 team inter-squad game in Calgary, Alta., Friday, May 27, 2022. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Mari Pietersen stopped 29 shots, including all 10 in the final period, and Canada hung on to win its sixth Under-18 women’s hockey world championship, beating the defending champion United States 3-2 on Monday night.

Ava Murphy and Alexia Aubin had a goal and an assist each, and Jocelyn Amos also scored for Canada, which rebounded from a 7-0 loss to the Americans in the preliminary round.

Canada won gold for the second time in the past seven tournaments, and by a familiar score. The Canadians beat the U.S. 3-2 to win gold at the Beijing Games in February and at the world championships in August.

The Canadians went 1-2 in the preliminary round of the tournament before winning three straight.

The high-scoring Americans, who entered the game with a tournament-leading 21 goals, scored just twice on 31 shots. Finley McCarthy and Claire Enright scored seven seconds apart in the closing minutes of the second period after Canada jumped to a 3-0 lead.

The closest the U.S. came to tying the game came with 2:50 remaining when Tessa Janecke, to the right of Canada’s net, got her stick on a loose puck only to have the shot go off the left post.

Annelies Bergmann finished with 18 saves for the U.S.

The Americans were seeking their tournament-leading ninth title, but instead settled for their sixth silver medal. The U.S. has reached each of the 14 championship games and fell to 13-8 against Canada in the tournament, including 7-6 in gold-medal games.

The U.S. beat Canada 2-1 in overtime two years ago in Slovakia to win the title. Last year’s tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament this year was delayed and moved from Sweden to the University of Wisconsin.

The Americans went 3-0 in the preliminary round, outscoring their opponents by a combined margin of 18-1, before advancing to the gold-medal game with a 3-2 win over Sweden on Sunday.

Canada went ahead 3-0 at the 12:34 mark of the second period, when Murphy and Amos scored 58 apart. Amos backhanded in a rebound after Bergmann stopped Karel Prefontaine’s shot.

The Americans finally gained life when McCarthy floated a shot in from the blue line for a power-play goal with 1:37 left in the second period. Then Enright scored off the ensuing faceoff by converting a rebound after Pietersen stopped an initial shot from Ava Lindsay.

Aubin converted Canada’s first power-play opportunity 5:35 into the game. Canada had entered the game 0 for 14 on the power play in the tournament.

Earlier in the day, Sanni Vanhanen scored three times, Emilia Kyrkko stopped 35 shots and Finland beat Sweden 3-0 to win its third bronze medal — and second in three events.

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