2024 Worlds Gold Medal Game Preview: USA vs Canada

It all comes down to this. Tonight, the United States and Canada face off for yet another gold medal.

2024 Worlds Gold Medal Game Preview: USA vs Canada
Laila Edwards and Renata Fast battle over the puck. Photo courtesy of the IIHF.

Tonight, the moment we’ve all been waiting for arrives. Team USA takes on Canada as hockey’s greatest rivalry returns to the gold medal game for the 22nd time in 23 tournaments.

The Basics: Sunday, April 14, 2024- USA vs Canada- 5 p.m. EDT, Adirondack Bank Center, Utica, NY (NHL Network, TSN1, RDS)

What to Expect

Harvey (left) and Stacey (right) battle over the puck. Stacey is on her kness, while Harvey has nearly fallen to hers as well. The puck sits in front of Harvey as Stacey reaches for it. Harvey is in blue, while Stacey is in white.
Caroline Harvey and Laura Stacey battle over the puck. Photo courtesy of the IIHF.

In the preliminary-round matchup between these two, the U.S. pulled off a thrilling 1-0 overtime win, and it was one of the most exciting 1-0 games in recent memory. It was fast, physical, and a goaltending duel, with both teams getting multiple grade-A opportunities throughout the game. Expect more of the same tonight.

The United States enters this game following a 5-0 win over Finland in the first game of yesterday’s semifinals. They tallied two goals through 40 minutes before their sustained pressure finally seemed to crack Finland and they poured on three in the third period. They’ve been cruising all tournament, although their worst game came against Finland in the second half of a back-to-back. However, they’ll be the slightly fresher team tonight thanks to playing in the early game yesterday, so hopefully their play reflects that. Overall, look for them to prove that their overtime win earlier in the week wasn’t just a fluke and that their youth movement has made them the better team.

Meanwhile, Canada comes into this one following a 4-0 win over Czechia in the 7 p.m. EDT game yesterday. They dominated Czechia in nearly all facets, outshooting them 47-9, but Czech goaltender Klara Peslarová was outstanding in the defeat. Canada is no stranger to back-to-back games, with all four preliminary round games being played as part of one. So, even though they played less than 24 hours ago, they should be ready to hit the ground running again. In last year’s tournament, Canada took the preliminary round game before losing the gold medal on home soil to the United States. So, look for them to recreate that pattern tonight and spoil the Americans’ hopes of a repeat championship.

Ann-Renée Desbiens makes a save from the butterfly position. She is looking down at the puck, which is bouncing off her left pad. She is in a white uniform, and red and white Canada-themed goalie gear, including her mask.
Ann-Renée Desbiens makes a save against the United States. Photo courtesy of the IIHF.

In goal, expect Ann-Renée Desbiens for Canada. She’s been phenomenal all tournament and was a huge reason why the first game went to overtime. She made numerous grade-A saves to keep the Canadians in it while the U.S. surged, especially in the first period. As a bonus, she has already played in one set of back-to-backs, so she’ll be well-prepared today. She is 3-0-1-0 in the tournament, with a 0.49 GAA and 0.976 SV% (both first overall).

As for the Americans, look for it to be Aerin Frankel again. Frankel has been lights-out this tournament, with shutouts in four of her five appearances. Like Desbiens, Frankel was a huge reason why the first game went to overtime, turning aside a lot of excellent chances for Canada en route to the win. This will be her first time starting both games of a back-to-back this year, but she’s typically at her best while the lights are shining brightest, so she should be fine. She is 4-1-0-0 this tournament, with a 0.59 GAA and 0.962 SV% (both second overall).

USA Key to the Game

Murphy skates with the puck as Nurse chases. Murphy is more hunched over, while Nurse is standing a little more upright as she comes in from Murphy's right. Nurse looks like she is about to reach her stick around Murphy. Murphy is wearing blue, while Nurse is wearing white.
Abbey Murphy skates with the puck as Sarah Nurse chases. Photo courtesy of the IIHF.

Play the same way they did last time. In the preliminary round meeting, the U.S. played a disciplined, fast game. They moved the puck well offensively while putting up strong defensive work. They need to do the same thing today. Going to the box frequently would likely spell disaster even though Canada’s power play has not been as strong as expected. Not only does Canada have a knack for figuring things out in the nick of time, but even if they don't, it will tire the U.S. players out faster and keep them from their game. Meanwhile, when they’re on their game and the offense is clicking, I’m not sure even Canada can slow them down too much. They’ve been that fast and that good at moving the puck. So, get to that game again today and keep locking it down defensively, and they’ll give themselves a good chance at another gold medal.