U.S. outlasts Canada in thriller to win World Championship

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The U.S. women’s hockey team avoided another collapse against Canada, winning the World Championship final 7-5 after squandering a 5-2 lead in Malmo, Sweden.

Brianna Decker and Kendall Coyne potted third-period goals after Canada had tied the gold-medal game with three scores in a 2-minute, 3-second span in the second period.

The U.S. captured gold for the fifth time in the last six World Championships, making up a little bit for Canada’s four straight Olympic gold medals. The last, in Sochi, was the product of two Canadian goals in the final 3:26 of regulation, plus an overtime winner.

Saturday’s final was a vastly different affair, the highest-scoring game in the series history of more than 100 games dating to 1990, according to Hockey Canada records.

At the final horn, U.S. players threw their gloves and sticks, screamed and crowded goalie Alex Rigsby.

Canada chased U.S. starting goalie Jessie Vetter during its three-goal spurt in the second period. Vetter, 29, is the oldest player on the U.S. roster mixed with Olympians and Worlds rookies. She was in net for the last two Olympic gold-medal games.

The U.S. relied on its top line of Decker, Coyne and Hilary Knight. Knight scored one of four U.S. first-period goals before Canada erased that 5-2 deficit in the second and was named the tournament MVP.

The U.S. outshot Canada 36-27.

The U.S. played in Malmo with a new coach, former NHL defenseman Ken Klee, and without four-time Olympian Julie Chu plus forward Amanda Kessel. Kessel, who scored the game-winning goal in the 2013 Worlds final, has not played since the Sochi Olympics due to concussion effects.

Canada, too, missed stalwarts in Malmo, including five-time Olympian defenseman Hayley Wickenheiser (injury) and goalie Shannon Szabados. Szabados, whose presence appeared most missed Saturday, is playing men’s minor-league hockey with the Columbus (Ga.) Cottonmouths.

The game marked the finale for Canadian forward Caroline Ouellette, the only athlete to enter at least four Winter Olympic events and win gold in all of them.

The 2016 World Championships will be in Canada in Kamloops, B.C.

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