HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — The names Cherie Piper and Gillian Apps didn’t show up in the scoring summary of the gold medal game, but the Dartmouth sophomores did everything but score in lifting Canada to a 2-0 win over the U.S. to win their first World Championships in front of a sellout crowd of 10,508 at the Halifax Metro Centre.
Piper set up Canada’s insurance goal in the second minute of the third period by blocking a shot in the defensive zone, rushing up ice, and putting the puck on net. U.S. goaltender and Brown alum Pam Dreyer stopped playing the puck when it was still live, permitting Canada defensemen Delaney Collins to stuff it home.
Minnesota sophomore Natalie Darwitz was the only U.S. college player to put a puck in the net this night, but unfortunately for the U.S., that shot at 15:39 of the third period bounced out of the net and the officials failed to call it goal. With no instant reply, there was no recourse.
Krissy Wendell, the other Minnesota sophomore on the U.S. team, was unable to play due to injuries suffered yesterday. Now it’s the Dartmouth sophomores instead who get to relish their first championship.
“It’s a totally different experience,” said Piper contrasting this win with the 2002 Olympic gold win. “The feeling never gets old. You can’t even describe it. It just feels great-winning it in Canada in front of all your family and friends and all the 10,000 people who were here tonight.”
Piper’s craftiness in stealing the puck was the impetus behind several Canadian scoring chances in the first period, including a couple two-on-ones. She performed one of the day’s most outstanding physical feats in the second period when she dived to control a blueline-to-blueline pass, and still managed to rush the net and draw a penalty.
“That’s what this game was about, everyone being unselfish and doing the little things, and [Piper] was outstanding,” said Harvard alum Jennifer Botterill. “She created things, took the puck to the net, and she was great.”
For her part, Botterill, the all-time top scorer in U.S. collegiate history, was named the tournament’s most outstanding player and finished as its leading point scorer with three goals and nine assists. This is her second straight MOP honor, dating back to the last World Championship played in 2001 in Minneapolis.
Apps, Piper’s linemate with both Canada and Dartmouth, was often the beneficiary of Piper’s efforts.
“[Piper] played unbelievable and created so many chances for our line,” Apps said. “She came to play today, all 60 minutes. When she’s on her game, she’s on her game, and she was definitely on tonight.”
Apps, while not making the scoring summary, did make the penalty summary twice. But it was of no matter because the Canadian penalty kill played far better than it did on Saturday when it allowed two U.S. power play goals.
“I couldn’t catch a break, but I was just so pumped to be playing in this game,” Apps said.
Every Canadian had reason to be pumped this game. The stands were packed with flags, thunder sticks and Halifax spirit. The total attendance for the tournament of 94,001 shattered the previous record of 66,784. Even for a four-time champion like Botterill, this experience was something else.
“This so special, any time you have a world championship in your home country, and let alone in Halifax where you have this many people to support you,” Botterill said. “This team has been so great, really. The girls came together, and it’s been a long time coming after the cancellation last year. So you look around the room and I’m just so proud of everyone.”
The crowd exploded to record decibel-levels when Danielle Goyette dropped a pass back to Hayley Wickenhesier at the left faceoff circle, and she fired the puck into the top right corner. Princeton alum Andrea Kilbourne was just a step late on the backcheck. The goal gave Canada a 1-0 lead as its edge in play finally showed on the scoreboard.
“We just brought passion today and played for 60 minutes, and I don’t think we did that on Friday,” Botterill said. “We brought that great Canadian pride that this team’s all about.”
The U.S. played with passion too, but it came up short for the eighth time.
“Everyone gave everything they had, that’s all we could ask for,” said U.S. captain Cammi Granato.
It was a tournament full of misfortunate for the U.S. down the stretch. The Americans were without both Krissy Wendell and Shelley Looney for the gold medal game. Julie Chu and Cammi Granato were both in and out of the lineup. With all those injuries, the U.S. showcased its depth.
“Other kids have to step up, and we saw a lot of positive things throughout our team’s roll through the tournament,” said U.S. coach Ben Smith.
The worst luck of all came in the third period, when there was no whistle in the third period, and the puck Darwitz put into the net was not reviewed.
“Women’s hockey deserves to have instant reply,” Granato said. “As athletes we deserve better.”
Smith had not seen a replay immediately after the game and did not comment on it, although he did say he had expected the goal to be reviewed because he believed the arena had been wired for instant replay for World Juniors.
In the losing effort, the U.S. still picked up some hardware. Darwitz and Harvard captain Angela Ruggiero were named to the all-tournament team, as were Botterill and Pam Dreyer. Dreyer earned the media’s vote for the all-tournament team, although it was Kim St. Pierre earning the tournament’s most outstanding goalkeeper award for her shutout.
Ruggiero earned the honors for best defensemen. Jayna Hefford, who benefited mightily from linemates Botterill and UMD junior Caroline Ouellette, was the tournament’s leading goal scorer and the most outstanding forward.