Team USA won gold in the shootout against Finland after a controversial goalie interference call in OT saved them from a silver-medal finish for what would have been the first time since 2012.
Team USA finished the tournament undefeated.
The closest Team USA came to losing a game this tournament was when playing Finland. Even in the preliminary round matchup, which Team USA ended up winning 6-2, the Finns were leading 2-1 going into the third period. The young Team USA responded with a five-goal third period, but again struggled to find that scoring touch in the gold-medal game rematch, where they scored only one goal during play, off the stick of Annie Pankowski.
For the first time, Team USA did not face Team Canada in the medal rounds. During their preliminary round matchup, Team USA was able to take the 3-2 win thanks to a second-period off of a game-winning goal from, you guessed it, Annie Pankowski.
The rest of the tournament was a goal-scoring bonanza for Team USA: an 8-0 win against Switzerland, a 10-0 win against Russia in the preliminary round, a 4-0 win over Japan, and an 8-0 semifinal win over Russia.
- Hilary Knight. No question about it, Knight was the most dominant forward in Espoo. She had 11 points, all of which were primary. That included seven goals, more than anyone else in the tournament (Loren Gabel and Natalie Spooner of Canada each had six). It was her first tournament wearing the A for Team USA, and she earned it every minute she was on the ice.
- Annie Pankowski. After being cut from the Pyeoncghang Olympic squad, Pankowski had an incredible end to her college career, complete with a NCAA Championship. She carried over her production into Worlds, scoring the game-winner against Canada in the preliminary round, the only Team USA goal in regulation during the gold-medal game, and a shootout goal to help seal the deal on the team’s fifth gold in a row. She had seven points, many of which were in clutch situations, and one can reasonably assume she’s earned a lasting spot on the squad.
- Alex Rigsby. Starting with the obvious, Rigsby’s ability to move past the controversial no-goal call in overtime, play lights-out through two overtime penalty kills and then dominate the shootout, means she played a pivotal role in Team USA’s gold-medal win. Outside of that, though, she had an incredible tournament. The 2019 CWHL Goaltender of the Year had two shutouts, a .940 GAA and a .953 SV% at the end of the tournament. Her five wins set a record for the most wins by a goalie in a single Worlds tournament.
This was the most complete and dominant Team USA roster in recent memory. All four lines were firing, rookies were scoring (Samoskevich had two goals and Scamurra had one), the defense was on the scoresheet (they collectively scored nine goals) and the goalies had four combined shutouts. As great as that is, it puts the coaching staff in an interesting position.
It’s hard to argue that much should be changed here, but we have to remember that both Lamoureux sisters have just started skating again, and their last time on the ice they were instrumental in the Olympic gold-medal game. There are very solid defenders on the bubble who could challenge for a spot moving forward, including gold-medal Olympian Sidney Morin (Linköping HC) and Savannah Harmon (Buffalo Beauts). Rookie goaltender Emma Polusny (St. Cloud State) traveled to Finland but didn’t play a game, which leaves the question of who else, if anyone, the staff is considering for that third goaltender role.
This isn’t even taking into account players moving into college or early on in their college careers who will probably warrant a look on the senior team roster in the next few years, like Britta Curl, Grace Zumwinkle, Taylor Heise, and Madeline Wethington, who have all been working their way up through the Team USA system. Since it’s early in the quad to prepare for the next Olympics, it’s likely that we’ll see more roster and line shuffling from tournament to tournament.
All statistics taken from the IIHF website and Mike Murphy’s tracking data.