International Ice Hockey Federation

Canada's Bell fires OT winner

Canada's Bell fires OT winner

Canada-U.S. decided by 1-0 score

Published 10.01.2017 22:40 GMT+1 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Canada's Bell fires OT winner
ZLIN, CZECH REPUBLIC - JANUARY 10: Team Canada celebrates their 1:0 overtime victory during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship. (Photo by Andrea Cardin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Captain Ashton Bell scored the only goal of the game at 1:57 of 3-on-3 overtime to give Canada first place in Group A.

Bell gathered a loose puck at the U.S. blue line to create a three-on-one but didn't hesitate in firing a shot over the glove of Alex Gulstene.

"It was a great play by my teammates to get the puck free," Bell recounted. "I happened to be there and was thinking shot all the way."

"I was just watching the puck trying to read what she was going to do," Gulstene described, "She got a quick release off and beat me clean."

Danika Ranger was excellent in stopping all 23 shots she faced for the shutout, while Gulstene stopped 29 of 30, many tough saves as well.

"We wanted to shut them down, and I think as a team we did that," said Ranger. "I tried to stay in front of the puck and communicate with my defence, so they'd know when to push players out of the way. They were great."

"We came out a little slow in the first but got some momentum as the  game went on," Gulstene added. "In the third and overtime we kept the puck in their end. All in all, the team played really well."

Players on both sides blocked shots with impunity, and both sides had their share of puck possession. In the end, it was one moment, one shot that was the difference.  

In some ways the game had little meaning in that both teams had already earned byes to the semi-finals, but a Canada-United States is never meaningless. Regardless of the score, the result set up what is expected to be a gold-medal final between the same teams on Saturday night in Zlin.

The scoreless first period offered five power plays, three to the U.S., but the two best scoring chances came short-handed to Canada. Midway through the period Gabrielle David stole the puck at her blue line and dashed the length of the rink only to be stoned by Gulstene on a deke.

Later it was Audrey-Anne Veillette with a quick steal right in front of the American goal, but her low shot was again stopped by Gulstene.

The best stop by Ranger in the Canadian goal came off a nice play by Grace Zumwinkle, who walked out of the corner and snapped a hard shot to the short side which the goalie blocked aside.

The shot Ranger remembers best, though, was one early on which to the casual eye might have seemed ordinary but was anything but for her. "I remember making a nice gove save on their first shot, and that was important because it really got me into the game with some momentum." 

The second period was also scoreless but not without plenty of end-to-end action. The Americans came out flying and had good pressure in the Canadian end, but no pucks got by Ranger.

After killing an early penalty, Canada then took over for a long stretch—but still no goals. The best chance came when Audrey-Anne Veillette set up Sarah Fillier in front, but Filler’s shot rang off the post behind Gulstene.

Later, on a Canada power play, American Taylor Heise stripped Brooke Hobson of the puck at the blue line and went in alone, only to blast a shot high.

The third was more cautious, but the U.S. had by far the better of play. Cayla Barnes nearly had the game winner late in the third but Ranger, from the seat of her pants, kicked out her left pad to make a sensational save.

And so, Canada has fired the opening salvo, and if the teams meet again for gold, it promises to be another North American gem.

"We're faster than they are," Gulstene said. "They get a lot of energy, and then they kind of settle down a bit. We have to attack their weaknesses when they're down. We're both great teams, but we have to bring our A game if we meet in the finals."


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