Americans skate away with convincing 5-0 win over Finland - and bronze medal - at U18 women's worlds
OSTERSUND, Sweden -- For the first time in the history of the IIHF Under-18 Women's World Championship, the normally internationally dominant American squad was forced to face off not for the gold medal, but for the bronze medal, after a tough loss to tournament host Sweden.
After the 2-1 upset loss to the Swedes, the U.S. took on Finland, another country that often lands in the top four teams in the world. Nevertheless, the Americans were able to skate away with a convincing 5-0 final over the Finns to at least take home a medal, although it may not have been the colour of medal they had hoped for and wanted.
Led by team captain Joy Dunne, an Ohio State commit, who scored the game's first goal, and goaltender Anneliese Bergmann, who recorded 23 saves, the U.S. set the tone early on, outshooting Finland by an impressive 16-3 mark in the first period. For the Americans, a highly collaborative effort emerged as one of the key themes of this game.
The second period saw the U.S. add to its lead, as Boston College commit Samantha Taber fired a shot through the five hole, beating Finnish goaltender Kertuu Kuja-Halkola. Less than three minutes later, Kendra Distad provided a three-goal advantage, the momentum firmly in favour of the U.S.
Adding a pair of goals in the third period, Allie Lalonde placed her name on the scoresheet with a wrist shot from the neutral zone, placing the game out of reach for the struggling Finns.
With less than four minutes in the game, Finland pulled its goaltender, hoping to muster some offence. Taking advantage of the open net, Bella Fanale made it 5-0, with every goal of the game being scored by a different Americanskater. Fittingly, Dunne picked up one of the assists, involved with the final U.S. goal of the tournament.
Ava Lindsay, from Minnetonka, Minn., earned Player of the Game honours. Additionally, the bronze medal battle saw nine different players record at least one point. Dunne, Fanale and Ely Klepinger each logged two points. Meanwhile, blueliner Molly Jordan earned a place on the IIHF's Media All-Star Team.
As the 2023 tournament marked the 15th Anniversary of the under-18 women's worlds, the United States join Canada as the only nations to medal in every single tournament to date. Of note, 2023 only marked the second time that U.S. and Canada did not oppose each other for the gold medal.