Here we are again, another World Championship down, another USA/Canada gold medal match.
This might just be one of the most dynamic and dominant American rosters we’ve seen in quite some time. Headed into the tournament, there was definitely a giant, Brianna Decker-sized hole in the lineup as she is still recovering from her injury sustained during the Olympics this year, but this squad has already proved to have picked up the slack and then some.
How They Got Here
Team USA has gotten to the gold medal game in every single world championship appearance since this tournament began. They got here how they always get here, with great defense and vastly outshooting their opponents. This time around, in six games, the Americans have outscored their opponents 52-5. The closest game being a first-round matchup with Canada which they came from behind to win 5-2.
Most recently, Team USA is coming off of a 10-1 victory over Czechia with goals by Taylor Heise (2), Amanda Kessel (3), Hilary Knight (2), Jesse Compher, Hayley Scamurra, and Caroline Harvey. Klara Hymlarova was the lone goal scorer for the Czechs after a goalie swap after the first period settled them down a bit.
Player To Watch
You’ve got Hilary Knight breaking the all-time Worlds point record, and you’ve got Amanda Kessel having, statistically, her best Worlds tournament ever but all eyes have been and should be on the rookie Taylor Heise. It is just her first time on this roster, but she is dangerously close to breaking the single-tournament points record and has just been a scoring machine, as well as forcing turnovers and penalties left and right. Heise has a spot on this roster for a long time, and it won’t be soon before she has a gold medal to show for it.
Key To Win
In a lot of their matchups in this tournament, the Americans didn’t struggle with much but if I had to be nit-picky, I would point out how careful they need to be with taking penalties. Typically, they have a cushion big enough to sustain a power play goal against them or two but against Canada, they won’t be up 6-0 after the first period. Additionally, this game will have a higher intensity than their previous matchup earlier in the tournament. Canada will come out with a vengeance, so USA should focus on trying to score first and keep the shots coming.
In the past year, Team Canada has claimed gold at both the 2021 Worlds and the 2022 Olympics. They’ll have another chance in this year’s gold medal game against the United States. After nearly a decade of coming in second to Team USA at Worlds, they have the chance to start a streak.
How They Got Here
It’s not necessarily a surprise that Canada’s here, especially after the year they’ve had. Their roster is pretty much the same one they rolled out at the Olympics with a few minor adjustments to account for players taking time off. That bodes well considering they won the Olympics.
Canada lost just a single game in the preliminary round, a 5-2 defeat to Team USA. The Americans were the better team on that day and gave Team Canada their first real scare of the tournament. They won all of their other preliminary games fairly easily. It was the same in the quarterfinal and the semifinal, beating Sweden and Switzerland 3-0 and 8-1 respectively.
Player To Watch
Brianne Jenner is one point away from reaching the 100-point milestone with the senior national team.
Jenner is also chronically underrated. She’s always been a little bit in the shadows of Team Canada’s superstars, but she has been an important part of this team for a long long time. She works hard and steps up in the big moments. You don’t score 99 points for Team Canada without being pretty good at hockey.
Key To Win
For Canada, the key to winning is simple. Don’t lose.
One of the most frustrating things about Team Canada in the past few years has been their tendency to make game and even tournament-altering mistakes. They beat themselves as much as their beaten by their opponents.
They need to be careful about how many penalties they take and how many scoring opportunities they allow, both things that they know how to do. They can’t win this game by outshooting their opponent 50-5 like they have in the preliminary round, this game requires some more defense than that.
If Canada loses this game, they’ll do it in their own end.