Team USA won the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Espoo, beating Finland in the shootout after a 1-1 tie through 80 minutes of hockey. It is their 9th gold medal at the Worlds and their fifth-consecutive world title.
The Finns took home their first silver medal in their first-ever finals appearance, but many believe that it should have been gold.
The first period of the gold medal game was undoubtedly the most entertaining 20 minutes of scoreless hockey we saw in Espoo. Noora Räty was flat-out brilliant, a human cheat code with save after save to keep the scales at zero.
The first goal of the gold medal game was scored 15 minutes and change into the second period. Räty had answers for several golden scoring opportunities for the U.S. but was fooled when Annie Pankowksi ripped a wrist shot through a Jenni Hiirikoski screen to break the scoreless tie.
Pankowski scores the first goal of the game between 🇺🇸 & 🇫🇮, and gives Team USA a 1-0 lead pic.twitter.com/AuF92LxkA9— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) April 14, 2019
With 1:31 left in the second period, Susanna Tapani tied the game and ended Team USA’s shutout streak with a beautiful wrist shot. She made no mistake after Petra Nieminen found her open with time and space. It was just the fifth goal allowed by Alex Rigsby in the 2019 Worlds.
So, just like after the first 20 minutes, we were tied after 40 minutes. The shots were 24-14 in USA’s favor at the second intermission. After being outshot 17-4 in the first, the Finns outshot the Americans 10-7 in the second.
The third period went scoreless despite USA putting 13 shots on net and Finland getting four more shots of their own. Both teams were playing intense yet cautious hockey; neither team took any penalties.
Venla Hovi went to the box five minutes into sudden death for tripping up Brianna Decker, giving USA a huge opportunity to deliver on the power play. In the dying seconds of the power play, Kendall Coyne Schofield put a chance on a silver platter for Kelly Pannek, who was parked to the right of Räty, but she missed the net wide.
With the penalty killed, the crowd began its relentless roar of “SUOMI! SUOMI!” once again. Five minutes later all hell broke loose.
Jenni Hiirikoski made a brilliant end-to-end rush and dangled through the U.S. defense to put a tricky shot on net against Rigsby, but she was stopped by Rigsby who came sliding out of her net. An official in the corner raised her hand to call Rigsby for tripping while Petra Nieminen buried the loose puck into Team USA’s open net. Finland had won their first-ever gold medal — or had they?
After video review, the call on the ice is no goal. Overtime continues on. pic.twitter.com/L9rJPX01g5— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) April 14, 2019
Team Finland and its home crowd immediately erupted into a blissful celebration that slowly quieted down while Kendall Coyne Schofield spoke to the officials. After a very lengthy video review, the referee signaled that there was no goal, but the only penalty on the play was assessed to Rigsby. And no American player touched the puck before Nieminen buried it into the empty net.
There was a glaring lack of clarity on the no goal call, but the game continued after the Finns solemnly put their gear back on. Nieminen drew a huge penalty with 1:54 remaining in sudden death, but the Finns were unable to score.
So the gold medal game of the 2019 Worlds went on to be decided by a shootout.
Karvinen misses wide.
Kessel made all sorts of moves before beating Räty through her five-hole.
Savolainen was stopped on a rising backhand attempt by Rigsby.
Pankowksi made a beautiful deke, got Räty to bite, and buried it into the open net.
Tuominen ripped it past Rigsby to give Finland life.
Carpenter was stopped by the right pad of her CWHL teammate.
Nieminen had Rigsby beat, but she lost the puck after Rigsby sent a pad and her stick at her in desperation.
Räty stonewalled Knight, who had the game on her stick.
Tapani, who needed to score, attempted a bold, creative move to keep Finland alive, but was stopped by Rigsby.
With Rigsby’s final save on Tapani, the U.S. began its celebration of what will go down as one of the most controversial gold medal victories in the history of the sport.
Räty finished the game with 51 saves on 52 shots in regulation and overtime and she stopped two of the four shooters she faced in the shootout. The gold medal game was the only game in Espoo where Hilary Knight failed to score a goal. She finished her 2019 Worlds with 11 points in six games.