For the 18th time in 18 world women’s hockey championships, the U.S. and Canada will meet in the gold-medal game.
The two rivals kept the streak alive with semifinal wins in Plymouth, Mich., on Thursday, setting up Friday’s showdown (7:30 p.m. ET, NHL Network and NHL.com).
First, Canada blanked Finland 4-0, making up for a shocking group-play loss to the Finns, their first-ever defeat to a nation other than the U.S. at an Olympics or worlds after 81 straight wins.
Later Thursday, the U.S. laid down the biggest rout of the tournament, an 11-0 thrashing of Germany, clearly overmatched in its first worlds semifinal.
Plenty is at stake in Friday’s final.
The U.S. goes for its first world title on home ice and its first streak of four straight world titles. It has never won every world championship in a single Olympic cycle.
Of course, the winner also becomes the PyeongChang Olympic favorite, though Canada lost the world final in 2005, 2009 and 2013 and came back to win Olympic gold each of the following years.
And then there is Hilary Knight.
The MVP of the last two world championships has tallied seven points in four games, including a goal and two assists against Germany. Knight is up to 61 career points at the world championships, tying for second among Americans with four-time Olympian Jenny Potter. Only the legendary Cammi Granato has more (78 points).
In this tournament, Knight has passed former U.S. captains Natalie Darwitz and Krissy Wendell on the career worlds points list.
Knight is also up to 35 career goals at the world championships, which is second on the U.S. list, also behind Granato (44 goals).
At 27 years old, Knight could realistically break Granato’s records in the next Olympic cycle, should she keep playing.
Knight reportedly considered retirement after taking a second straight silver in Sochi, but with the new labor deal, she has more incentive to keep playing than ever.
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