The United States overcame hosts Canada to complete the preliminary round of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Women’s Under-18 Championship in St Catharines with a perfect record.
Both teams went into the final Group A match on the back of two consecutive wins but it was the US who prevailed in the battle for top spot, claiming a 4-1 victory in front of an all-time tournament record crowd of 4,016 at the Meridian Centre.
The Americans took the lead with just under six minutes on the clock as Sydney Brodt snapped the puck in from close range after Madeline Wethington’s point shot had ended up on her stick.
Rebecca Gilmore doubled the advantage less than four minutes later following a cross-ice feed from Cayla Barnes and the US found themselves three goals to the good in the third period thanks to Natalie Snodgrass’s strike.
Canada got on the scoreboard with just over three minutes remaining when Julia Edgar pushed a loose puck over the line, but the home crowd’s excitement was soon ended by an empty-net goal from Gilmore in the dying moments.
“We were really ready for the game,” Snodgrass said.
“We got pumped up.
“We knew they’d come out strong, with the crowd behind them, but we had the intensity and speed and pace.
“We were ready.
“It was a fun game to play.”
Both teams now have two days off before they are due to play their semi-final matches on Thursday (January 14) after being given a bye straight through to the last four under the competition’s rules.
Also vying for a place in the semi-final are Group A opponents Russia and Czech Republic, who went up against each other today.
Russia triumphed 3-2 to finish third in the standings and will now face Finland, runners-up in Group B after a 3-1 victory against Sweden, in the second of tomorrow’s quarter-finals.
Prior to that, Czech Republic will play Group B winners Sweden in the first quarter-final encounter.
A relegation play-off is also scheduled for tomorrow between Switzerland and France, third and fourth in Group B respectively.
Switzerland beat winless France 6-0 today to finish level on six points with Sweden and Finland, but the country missed out on a quarter-final place by virtue of its inferior goal difference.
By Daniel Etchells
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, www.insidethegames.biz