Team USA took home their fifth U18 WWC gold in six years in a heart-stopping overtime win against Canada in the 2020 IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championship. Kiara Zanon netted the game-winner with 3:08 left in OT. Netminder Skylar Vetter was named the USA player of the game, making 31 saves.
Vetter was worthy of the honor, with a spectacular performance through the game. The 16-year-old, hailing from Lakeville, MN, posted a .938 SV% and a 1.52 GAA during the tournament.
The Scoring Breakdown
Team USA walked away with a 2-1 victory over Canada after a solid performance by both teams. The sole goal of the first period came from team USA, with Abbey Murphy sending a wrister past Canadian netminder Ève Gasconon the powerplay. The USA dominated the last few minutes of the first frame but failed to convert.
The second period then went scoreless. Shots were 10-7 USA, with several dangerous chances by both teams. Vetter continued her excellent performance from the first with several back-to-back saves to keep the lead.
Canada opened the scoring in the third at 5:38, with Ann-Frédérik Naud sneaking a powerplay goal past Vetter. Both teams then remained scoreless throughout the third, though both had some excellent chances. Team USA also killed off a crucial penalty late in the third to push the game to sudden-death overtime.
The IIHF features a 20 minute 3 on 3 overtime format. Team USA managed to successfully kill off a penalty that carried over from the third period. Defender Haley Winn nearly secured the gold early in OT but ended up ringing iron. Play then went back and forth with Winn breaking up a dangerous scoring chance for Canada. Zanon won the game late in OT, with an audience of 10.6k tuning in to watch the official stream.
Team Canada team walked away from the tournament with Silver. Russia took Bronze in a 6-1 win over Sweden.
Women’s Hockey Continues to Fight for Exposure
The USA Women’s team has continually provided exciting, entertaining hockey. Why, then, did viewers have to fight for a decent stream of the game? The first rounds of the tournament featured abysmal camera work, simply a fishbowl view that made the game difficult to follow, much less enjoy. Viewers couldn’t even see the puck, nor the numbers on the players’ backs.
There was an outcry about the situation, with women’s hockey reporters and fans alike angered by the stream and the lack of coverage. It’s easy to compare the coverage of this game to the Men’s World Juniors, happening at the same time. The IIHF issued a response, which caused more problems than it resolved.
There wasn’t a possibility to check the quality of the stream? Sounds unlikely. The issues were somewhat resolved after the outcry, with better camera angles, though still not perfect. There was also no running commentary during the game, something I’m sure fans and journalists alike would have benefitted from.
The bottom line of the situation is that women’s hockey deserves better, especially in the context of hockey organizations wanting to grow the game. Fans want to celebrate the victories along with the team and the young women competing deserve to have their accomplishments broadcasted and acknowledged.
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