Poulin comes up clutch again as Canada beats U.S. to win Women’s Worlds gold

Team Canada celebrates after defeating the United States in overtime in the final at the women's world hockey championships in Utica, N.Y., Sunday, April 14, 2024 (Adrian Kraus/AP)

UTICA, NY — Marie-Philip Poulin turned her cell phone around so she could record as she, Erin Ambrose and Danielle Serdachny all chugged beer from their Tim Hortons cups, and the Team Canada teammates drank until those cups were empty, with gold medals dangling from their necks.

Earlier on this Sunday evening, captain Poulin had a pair of goals, Ambrose opened the scoring, and then she hit Serdachny with a point shot that Serdachny put in the net to give Canada a thrilling 6-5 overtime win over their archrivals Team USA in the women’s world hockey championship final. 

[brightcove videoID=6350938009112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

The game was one for the ages, and it ended in three-on-three overtime, with two seconds remaining on an American penalty for too many players on the ice. 

After dropping the gold medal final to Team USA last year at home, Canada regained the world title on American ice, in front of a sold-out crowd that was heavy on “U! S! A!” chants. Canadian goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens made 18 saves in the back-and-forth victory.

“Going from 1-nothing, 2-1, 3-2, 3-3, 4-3 and then on and on — it was surreal,” a grinning Poulin said when it was over. “My heart went through a lot during that game, but that’s why we train.”

“That was one of the craziest games to be a part of,” added defender Renata Fast, who led Canada with six points in the tournament, had an assist on Sunday, and was named best defender of the championship. “When have you seen a 6-5 game with Canada and the U.S. in a gold medal game? Just electric.”

Serdachny put it best: “I would say no lead was really safe there until the overtime goal to end it.” 

Oh, this game. It was tied five different times. On four occasions, one team scored and the other answered with a goal less than three minutes later. Hockey’s fiercest rivals delivered once again.

“In between periods I said, ‘I’d love to be a fan sitting up there having a beer, watching this one,’” said Team Canada coach, Troy Ryan. 

When it was over, the Canadian women stood with their arms around each other on the blue line, swaying, singing ‘O Canada.’ A fan wearing an American onesie with an Eagle on it even stuck around to watch the Canadians lift the trophy and celebrate. Natalie Spooner put her son Rory inside that cup and took his picture. 

There were tears in more than a few American eyes as players stood on the blueline to accept their silver medals. 

“Three-on-three is an extremely skilled game and opens up the ice a lot for different mistakes,” said USA captain Hilary Knight, who scored to give her team a short-lived lead in the third period. “And unfortunately, we made a mistake in the wrong time.”

That the Americans had four players on the ice instead of three was glaring in the extra frame.

“I think that’s a big part of the game,” Fast said. “Three on three, you’re trying to manage a bench and we don’t play three on three often, so it’s just a matter of managing the bench and getting the right people out. We wanted to make sure we took advantage of that power-play opportunity, because four on threes are hard to defend against.”

“At the end it was devastating,” said American defender Caroline Harvey, an absolute star all tournament long, with a goal and an assist in the final. 

American fans sure turned up for this one, with a sellout crowd that was chanting “U! S! A! U! S! A!” even before the puck dropped, and a couple fans banging on massive drums. Fans held signs that read things like “Knight Knight Canada” (for captain Hilary), and “All the way USA!” and “Re-peat!” There were plenty of Team USA jerseys in the crowd, and even more flags. On the walk in, American flags were hanging off light posts lit up red, white and blue. 

But for the first time at the Adirondack Bank Center on Sunday, when it was over, the smattering of Canadian fans here yelled “Can-a-da! Can-a-Da!” 

It was Canada that struck first in this final when the game was about eight minutes old. Ambrose’s point shot made its way through traffic and deflected off an American stick to beat goalie Aerin Frankel high on the blocker side, silencing most of this crowd, aside from the pockets of rowdy Canadian fans here.  

Adirondack Bank Center hit an absolute boil a little more than a minute later when American forward Laila Edwards — who had a hat-trick in the semifinal a day earlier — beat Desbiens with a rifle of a wrist shot, top corner, glove side. And that kept happening over and over: One team scores, the other answers. 

Goals from Julia Gosling for Canada and Megan Keller for Team USA tied things up in the second, and then Alex Carpenter gave the Americans their first lead of the night, late in the second. But with a minute to go in the period, captain Poulin carried the puck down the left wing in the American zone and looked to be making a pass, then instead cut toward the faceoff dot and lasered a shot into the top corner, tying the game 3-3. 

“Pou will always find a way to be a difference maker,” Ryan said. “I think without that goal late in the second period, it’s a different hockey game. After them really taking it to us for the better part of that period, for her to come up with that goal at that time, we go in the dressing room and not feeling so bad about ourselves and that’s what she does.”

Poulin, who had just two assists all tournament before Sunday’s final, scored her second of the game to make it 5-4, tipping a Fast point shot and then jumping on the rebound. 

“Yeah it’s pretty obvious that’s the most clutch player of all time,” said Fast.  “Like if they had momentum if she was on the ice, she was able to get momentum back for our team, and that’s what she did with that first goal. And then her second goal as well. And regardless, she just brings so much as a leader. We all follow her play and that’s clutch right there.”

Two minutes after Captain Clutch gave Canada the lead, with five minutes to go in the third, American forward Lacey Eden sent a beautiful pass from behind the net out to Harvey in the slot and Harvey made no mistake, tying things up for the Americans, setting things up for an OT thriller.  

With the win on Sunday, Canada has now won 13 world titles. 

“We came in on a mission for this tournament to kind of get back to the top of the podium,” Fast said, with a white champion’s ballcap on her head and a gold medal around her neck. “It feels really great to be there.”

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.