Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Knight’s OT goal lifts Team USA over Canada

Yanks win third straight world title

Hilary Knight

Led by Sun Valley's Hilary Knight, the U.S. Women's National Team won its third straight women's world hockey title with a 3-2 overtime victory against Canada Monday.

The dramatic finale took place at the 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation World Women's Championship at the Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switz.

Knight scored the game-winning goal at 7:48 of the extra session, while goalie Jessie Vetter of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin made 51 saves in the championship-winning effort. Knight poked in a loose puck out of the scrum for the winner.

Team USA ended the tournament unbeaten in five games (5-0 over Slovakia, 13-1 over Russia, 9-1 over Sweden, 5-1 over Russia semi-finals, 3-2 final Canada) to capture the gold medal for the fourth time in the last five world championships.

Arch-rivals Team USA and Canada have played for the title in all 13 world championships—with Canadians winning the first eight world titles before the Yanks broke through for their first in 2005. Since it's been mostly Team USA, although Canada won the 2010 Olympic gold at Vancouver.

Next year Team USA will get to defend its championship on home ice at Burlington, Vt., home of the University of Vermont's Gutterson Field House.

"I am so thrilled for the players," said Harvard University coach Katey Stone, head coach for Team USA, to USA Hockey's Web site. "They've worked extremely hard and bought into everything we were trying to accomplish. They played their hearts out—what an awesome night."

Knight also was a star in Team USA's second game of the preliminary round. She scored a three-goal hat trick plus three assists for a six-point night in the 13-1 rout of Russia.

It's been just over a month since Knight led the University of Wisconsin Badgers to the NCAA Division 1 women's hockey tourney title. Wisconsin (37-2-2) beat Boston University (27-7-4) by a score of 4-1 at Tullio Arena in Erie, Pa. March 20 to win the national crown for the fourth time in six seasons.

The Badgers ended the 2010-11 season unbeaten in their final 27 games including 25 wins and two ties. They out-shot Boston University 36-16.

Junior power forward Knight, 21, fired off a team-high total of 291 shots in 41 games and was Wisconsin's leading goal scorer with 47 goals.

With one year of eligibility left, Knight is the all-time Wisconsin leading goal scorer with 112 goals. She ranks third in all-time career points. Her college season stats were 47 goals and 34 assists for 81 points.

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