Canada 5 USA 4 in overtime. Here is American national team player Caitlin Cahow's view of the final game. She was unable to play due to an injury.
Hats off to Team Canada for a well fought final! It seemed to me an appropriate finish for Caroline Ouellette to net the game-winner in the extra frame. She had a fantastic tournament and has always been a quiet leader with an explosive impact. If I ever have to lose, I want it to be on the stick of a class act like Caroline. I have a profound respect for her as an athlete, competitor and catalyst for the growth of women’s hockey.
Additionally, as hard as it was to not hear my anthem at the end of a championship game, I have to say I have never been more proud of my team or my sport than I was yesterday. What a tremendous event the 2012 World Championship was for women’s ice hockey! In particular, this tournament was huge for the American players regardless of the outcome.
I think maybe only those of us who have worn the jersey will understand what it must have felt like to be on that ice with a deafening U-S-A cheer erupting through a packed house. It brought tears to my eyes because the only buildings in the world where women’s hockey packs them in by the thousands are Canadian ones. My memories of wearing the red, white and blue in front of a sold out crowd are almost exclusively associated with a sea of red. A long time ago I had to make peace with the fact that even though the 16,000 were almost all cheering against me, they were really cheering for women’s hockey, and I never took that for granted.
To a US player, the sound of silence from a sold out crowd is your goal in life. Because the only time a Canadian crowd will grow quiet is when we put one in the back of the net. It’s something special, a pure moment of joy shared between 21 women in matching jerseys. With the storm swirling around us, it’s the electric silence in the eye of the hurricane, a feeling of ecstasy, power and joy. It is our passion and our constant pursuit across all provinces. But this week we got to feel the ferocity of the storm in our own sails. This week the building shook with U-S-A.
For those of us who have dedicated our lives to wearing the USA jersey proudly, there are no words to describe what that feels like. I can only hope that our sport continues to grow; that we expand and strengthen the power of female athletes to transfix and transform the world with our dedication, passion and achievement. And that one day all players, from every country, get the opportunity to share that feeling.
They may have been chanting U-S-A, but I know, as I always have, that they were really celebrating the pinnacle of our game. They were overwhelmed by and in awe of the virtuosity of 40 athletes, role models and stateswomen. Forty examples of the best our sport has to offer the world. And they are hungry for more. I could have written about strategy, individual efforts, battles lost and won. At the end of the day, with talent like that, the game is a balance sheet of mistakes made and opportunities capitalized upon. Those statistics can be found in the box score. Team Canada was one goal better, and for their efforts they are crowned world champions, and well-deserving.
As much as I hate losing, especially to the greatest rivals I have ever known, I don’t feel loss. I feel empowered to build upon this momentum. To come back with renewed vigor and focus, to push harder than ever before so that every time I step on that ice, I am making myself and the game better. We have something magical on our hands, and none of us, Canadian or American, thinks we are done.
To be continued…
Here is Team USA player (she is on the injured list) Caitlin Cahow's answer to that question after the American's ripped through Switzerland 10-0 on Friday nite.
Friday night was another dominant display from Team USA. Florence Schelling put up a good front for Switzerland, but 80 shots is tall order. People keep coming up to me and asking me what is happening. Why does Team USA seem to be pulling away from the rest of the pack all of a sudden?
I have a couple of responses. First, I think the Team Canada that Team USA is going to face today in the gold medal game will be a very different one than they found last Saturday night. I will wait to make any commentary on the disparities between the US and Canada until after today’s result.
The major difference in my opinion is the growth of the game in our country at the grassroots level. Girls are getting involved in the game much younger than before. And the advent of competitive playing environments for younger players had pushed the highest levels of women’s hockey forward. For instance, there are currently at least six or seven players on Team USA who played for the US Under-18 Team prior to joining the U-22 or senior national teams. That is a full line and change. If you look at the games the US has played in thus far, Coach Katey Stone has been playing all four lines.
This is the biggest difference in the current Team USA from past teams in my opinion. When I played on my first US Team in 2005, the fourth line players (of which I was one) were chosen because they were great athletes in great shape that could follow directions, and not get scored on for shift or two a period. We were fore checkers, shot blockers and dump and chasers. We also took our job very seriously, and we were good at it.
Now on Team USA, players progress faster at a much younger age both in skills and conditioning. The players coming out of high school who have played on the U18 team are at a stage of development that many college grads were 5 years ago. The expectations have been raised, and the players have answered.
Historically, the challenge for any national team was to get the most skilled players in better shape (because talent can mask many sins) and to teach every skill player how to be a role player when asked. Since the Vancouver Olympics, USA Hockey has taken itself to task in this regard. The result is that from the first line of Team USA 2012 through the fourth, everyone is a skill player, and everyone is in very good shape. When your fourth line is Erika Lawler, Hannah Brandt and Jillian Dempsey, you know you have depth. Each of these players is a first liner in her program. They each have tremendous skill and ability, but they also have the discipline and dedication to be role players whenever asked.
One of the very cool things about women’s hockey at this level then is, unlike the NHL, there is no “checking line.” Aside from Hilary Knight (and I say this with love because she is a remarkable and singular athlete), the US forwards are not overly physically imposing. They are agile, quick, explosive, talented and… smaller than you might expect. Erika Lawler is a great example. (She is also 5 feet tall) Though she is currently anchoring the fourth line, I think everyone who has ever seen her play will agree that she is a playmaking threat every second she is on the ice. The same holds true with Hannah Brandt. She may only be in high school, but she showed up at USA Winter camp in December and scored a hat-trick on one of the best goalies in the world on the first night. She is a serious talent. Jillian Dempsey was Harvard’s leading goal scorer this year. To be a leading scorer on a division I hockey team is no longer about being faster than everyone else like it was 10 or even 5 years ago. It used to be if you had jets, you were going to get frequent breakaway looks at the net, and the most prolific scorers were often the fastest skaters on the ice. It takes a complete game to be a standout in women’s hockey these days, and that is as it should be.
What is difficult then about having so much talent on one squad is constructing a culture that elevates the team over the individual. Part of that equation is coaching, and part is the responsibility of the players holding themselves and one another accountable for the team mission. In my experience playing for Coach Katey Stone, I have found that the second flows from the first. Coach Stone is a culture creator. She establishes herself as the authoritarian, and clearly states her expectations. Then it is up to the players to make it happen. She has very high standards, but she is not a policewoman. She may set the culture trend for Team USA, but she demands that the players set the terms. It is the player’s willingness to buy into it and follow through that determines success. There is a sense of ownership and responsibility in the Team USA locker room right now that is amazing to be a part of. We each still take our jobs seriously, but it’s not shift to shift or fore check to fore check. It is moment to moment. Each moment is an opportunity to continue to grow and get better. If you look on the ice, you see the accomplishments of a thousand moments in which each of us has chosen to put the team before herself. And it’s working.
Complete Stats of the Game and Florence Schelling's 58 saves go to:
Swiss 5 Russia 2 ( 1 - 2 , 1 - 3 , 0 - 0 )
Editors note: Of the five goals, Stefanie Marty scored 2 goals and an assist on her twin sister Julia’s goal. Here is her blog on the Swiss team who were seeking revenge.
After our great win against Sweden on Tuesday, we were very determined in our quarterfinal against Russia. It was the second year in a row that we faced Russia in the quarterfinal and after last’s years loss we wanted revenge.
Even though no one mentioned last year’s game specifically, everyone on the team knew very well how much it hurt last year when we lost at home in the quarterfinal after a 3:0 lead. I think it is safe to say that it was one of the toughest losses for everyone on that team.
Because of that we felt like we were paying back something; also because of the great win we had the day before, gave us a very strong focus on the game. It started with the moment we knew that we will play Russia and ended with the moment when the game was over.
We were prepared for a physical game during which we had to be disciplined for 60 minutes to be successful. From the beginning on we tried to get many shots on the Russian net. Unluckily, it was the Russians who scored the first goal only two minutes into the game. We were too passive in our defensive zone, so that they scored on a rebound. During the first period Florence Schelling made some key saves to keep us in the game and it lasted until the second half of the period until we got to some great chances thanks to several power play situations. It was finally on a five on three we capitalized on a nice backdoor play. In the last minute of the opening period Phoebe Staenz luckily capitalized during a box play situation after a failed clearing attempt of the Russian goalie.
The second period was back and forth with advantages on our side. Thanks to some great plays we managed to have a 5:2 lead after 40 minutes. With the momentum on our side we were sent into the second intermission. For a short moment I thought about last’s years quarterfinal when we were in the exact same situation, but ended up losing. The atmosphere in the locker room was great, everyone was focused and I deleted that thought very quickly.
The last period was played smart and with great patience from our team. We did what we had to do and we managed to keep the three goal lead for the last 20 minutes. It was the second great win in two days and now we are very looking forward to our second semi-final at a world championship after 2008.
Wednesday is another day off before we face the US in front of their home crowd. Now, even more than before we have nothing to lose. In 2008, we ended up in the fourth place. This year we want more and we know that anything is possible.
USA 11 Finland 0 ( 0 - 2 , 0 - 6 , 0 - 3 )
Caitlin "Cahow, an injured US player posts her thoughts on this blow out game. It is not about the score. Tuesday April 10, 2012
Tonight was another anticlimactic finish for Team USA. As a player, I never like to see a double-digit score. It belies the passion and rivalry of our game. As proud as I am that Team USA is playing great hockey and winning by vast margins, I can’t help but be disappointed in the ever-expanding lack of parity in my sport. It was not that long ago that the US, Canada, Finland and Sweden were competing to one goal finishes. Watching the shootout in the Torino Olympics that took my team out of gold medal contention was one of the most disappointing moments of my life. I couldn’t fathom how we had lost to Sweden that day, but I certainly didn’t think that they hadn’t earned it.
That was a Team Sweden with remarkable skill, fitness, coaching and resources. Resources are the lynchpin, the watchword of our sport, and they run dry in between Olympic years, the only time when our sport draws international attention. I have also been a victim of an empowered Team Finland at the World Championships in 2008.
Finland and Sweden have consistently been arch-rivals of North American squads. Tonight’s final score is an unfortunate reminder of how tenuous that rivalry is without commitment from national federations.
As we get closer to Sochi, one hopes that in particular, the Russian Federation will take notice. For a country with such a storied hockey history, their support of their women’s team is lackluster at best. You cannot blame the players, who sacrifice their lives to a game they grew up loving, aspiring to be like national heroes: Mikhailov, Kharlamov, Makarov and Tretyak. Yet they don’t receive benefits in the same stratosphere as their male counterparts.
Of course, there were some remarkable accomplishments tonight by Team USA. Kelli Stack and Monique Lamoureux-Kolls both recorded hat tricks.
Coach Katey Stone perfected a trap fore-check breakout and made crucial adjustments to in-zone coverage. But let’s be honest. Tonight the story is really about equality in women’s sports. If countries like Finland, Sweden, Russia and others can support competitive men’s programs, they have no excuse not to support equally competitive women’s teams. The Olympics are two years away. There is time to invest in all of the qualifying teams, so that Sochi is one barn-burner after another. The skill, passion and drive are there waiting for a leg up. They are looking for their countries to answer the call.
Sweden-Germany 2-1 (OT) Sunday April 8, 2012
( 0 - 0 , 0 - 0 , 1 - 1 , 1 - 0 )
Elin Holmlov, Assistant Captain for Sweden on the very close game vs Germany thanks to the brilliant afforts of Jennifer Harss, Germany's goaltender and senior at University of Minnesota Duluth.
Once again the puck was scheduled to be dropped at 1.08 for our second game in the tournament, today's opponent was Germany. During this season we have played Germany three times and we knew they are good defensively, can create good counterattacks, and have great goalies.
Coming into the first period we knew we would have a lot of the control in the game and the importance of staying patient throughout the game. The first period was a little bit back and forth and not a lot of shots were taken from either team. The first period ended 0-0.
Before the second period we talked a lot about taking more shots and creating more scoring chances. We took about 24 shots this period but goalie Jenny Harss played like a wall for Germany and kept us from scoring. We had the game in this period, we created a lot of chances and knew once again we had to stay patient and keep building and creating to finally get the goal we were looking for.
In the third period we had a couple of power plays.
Captain Erika Holst scored a beautiful top-corner goal from the top of the right face-off circle after a pass from Frida Nevalainen. In the other power plays as well as 5-5 play we had chances to increase our lead but Harss played incredible in net. With about a minute left of the third period, Germany tied the game from a shot high up in our defensive zone. The third period ended 1-1, which meant we were going into a 4-4 5 minute OT.
It didn't take us long to put the puck in the net, 24 seconds in I got to a loose puck in front of the net after Jenni Asserholt took a shot. It was a goal and 2-1 win for us.
It felt good to come out with a win and now we are looking ahead to the last game of the regular round against Switzerland, which will be played on Tuesday, April 10th.
Game Summary: stats.iihf.com/Hydra/271/IHW271B05_74_5_0.pdf