Hilary Knight had a hat trick, and the U.S. scored three times in the last four minutes to beat Canada 6-3 in the world women’s hockey championship final, ending a losing streak in the rivalry.
The Americans beat the Canadians in a major final for the first time since the 2018 Olympics. Canada won the previous two world championships, plus the 2022 Olympics, and was riding a five-game win streak overall in the rivalry, matching its longest in 13 years.
Aware of that, there was a sign in the U.S. locker room that read “script.” It was upside down. Coach John Wroblewski ripped it down after the game while the team chanted “flip the script.”
Canada led 3-2 after two periods in Brampton, Ontario, but 20-year-old defender Caroline Harvey tied it five minutes into the final frame.
Then the U.S. went on a five-on-three power play with 3:52 left and got two goals from Knight in a 27-second span. She became the first American man or woman to record a hat trick in an Olympic or world championship final and ran her career total to 101 points in world championships, the most by any skater.
“I’m just so happy that we pulled it together,” Knight said in an on-ice interview, speaking loudly over Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” “This is a really young team. They say experience wins championships. We worked on it. We had our experience. We had our energy, and it was a solid team win tonight.”
Abbey Murphy and Cayla Barnes also scored for the U.S., which recorded the largest margin of victory in a major final since 2009. Only one of the last 11 gold-medal games between the rivals had been decided by more than one goal.
For Canada, Brianne Jenner scored twice in the final, just as she did at 2022 Worlds. Marie-Philip Poulin added her 10th career goal in 14 career major finals versus the U.S. dating to 2009.
The Americans made major roster changes going into these worlds.
They were without three-time Olympic medalist forwards Kendall Coyne Schofield (pregnant) and Brianna Decker (retired). Maddie Rooney and Alex Cavallini, their No. 1 goalies from the last two Olympics, didn’t make the team at a March tryout camp.
Wroblewski, who took over as coach after the 2022 Olympics, trotted out a second forward line of collegians — Taylor Heise, Hannah Bilka and Tessa Janecke.
Wroblewski also threw Aerin Frankel into the crease after she didn’t make the 2022 Olympic team and played just 20 minutes at the summer 2022 Worlds. This month, Frankel became the first U.S. women’s goalie to start five consecutive games at an Olympics or worlds in 26 years.
Harvey, who played in the 2022 Olympics before her NCAA debut, fronts the new generation. She became the second defender to ever lead the U.S. in points at an Olympics or worlds (with 14), and the first skater to lead the U.S. in points and ice time. She was the lone American to make the all-tournament team, which was headed by Canadian Sarah Fillier, the MVP.
“We came together as a group at the right time,” said Harvey, who led all 40 skaters Sunday with 23:35 of ice time, 14 months after playing 62 total seconds in the Olympic final (fewest of all 37 skaters). “We peaked at the right time.”
In the end, it came down to Knight, who made her national team debut at age 17 in 2006 and, this month, was team captain at a major tournament for the first time. She was without her longtime linemates Decker and Coyne Schofield.
For so long, she has been compared to Poulin, but on Sunday, she one-upped her Canadian contemporary, who has three times scored two goals in an Olympic final, but never had a hat trick in a gold-medal game.
“It’s hard to put into words right now,” Poulin said, according to Hockey Canada. “This one hurts, for sure, especially on home soil, but this group is very special; we’ll learn from it and move forward, but it’s a tough one to swallow.”
Knight is now 33, the only player on the team born in the 1980s and the second-oldest U.S. woman to ever play at worlds after her idol, Cammi Granato, in her finale in 2005.
“The legacy that Hilary carried on, it just trickles down, but that’s the heart of the team right there,” Wroblewski told the team in the locker room. “Your captain went out and took care of us, and everybody followed suit.”
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Head into the locker room post-win with Team USA!#WomensWorlds pic.twitter.com/37zzQ9VCKz
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) April 17, 2023