Alex Rigsby stopped four of five shots in a shootout and the United States beat Finland 2-1 on Sunday night for its fifth consecutive gold medal at the women’s world championship. The game itself was in Finland, basically giving the Finns home ice advantage.
The U.S. won after a questionable goaltender interference review wiped out what would have been a historic overtime goal for the Finns.
Finland scores in OT but the goal is disallowed after a review that took just short of an eternity pic.twitter.com/UbYCCdZVZX
— CJ Fogler (@cjzer0) April 14, 2019
— Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB) April 14, 2019
Finland celebrated on home ice after Petra Nieminen scored on a rebound 11:33 into overtime, but officials spent more than 10 minutes reviewing the play before disallowing the goal for goalie interference and forcing players to pick up their equipment and resume the game.
Additional angles including overhead of Finland’s disallowed goal pic.twitter.com/S8KGZFQaus
— CJ Fogler (@cjzer0) April 14, 2019
Fans who chanted “Suomi!” and waved blue and white flags throughout the game and erupted into jubilation after Nieminen appeared to score rained boos down on the Americans when they were given their medals.
“I’m extremely proud of our team tonight for playing their game while emotions were running high, in a loud building and against a team that played us incredibly hard,” U.S. coach Bob Corkum said. “It’s been an honor to coach this team.”
This was already a first for Finland, which pulled a stunning upset of Canada in the semifinals Saturday behind 43 saves from Noora Raty. The U.S. and Canada had met in each of the previous 28 world championship finals dating to the first in 1990.
Finland was close to winning gold on home ice. Even after Nieminen’s goal was disallowed for captain Jenni Hiirikoski making contact with Rigsby just outside the crease, the U.S. had to kill off two Finland power plays in overtime of a thrilling game.
“This is the best Finnish team we’ve ever seen,” said Rigsby, who made 26 saves before the shootout started and then denied Michelle Karvinen, Ronja Savolainen, Nieminen and Susanna Tapani to extend the Americans’ gold-medal streak that dates to 2015.
Amanda Kessel and Annie Pankowski scored in the shootout against Raty, the best goaltender in the world, who made 50 saves in regulation and overtime. Pankowski scored the Americans’ only goal in regulation in the second period, and Susanna Tapani answered 1:43 later for Finland.
Canada routed Russia 7-0 in the bronze-medal game earlier Sunday.
Controversy aside, this final was reminiscent in entertainment value and ending to the gold-medal game between the U.S. and Canada at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang. That game also went through overtime and into a shootout with Maddie Rooney in goal for the U.S. when it beat Canada for the country’s first women’s hockey Olympic gold medal since 2002.
Finland had wanted to protest the disallowed goal, but the International Ice Hockey Federation wouldn’t allow it.
Some clarity here: Finland women’s hockey team wanted to file an official protest w/ IIHF for disallowed goal in OT that gave the U.S. World Championship gold. But, according to Finnish Hockey Fed chairman, they can not file an official protest. (H/T to @shoffren for his help)
— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) April 14, 2019
It wasn’t just the fans that appeared furious. Finnish players seemed livid, as well. It led to a spectacularly awkward photo captured between Finland’s Jenni Hiirikoski and IIHF president Rene Fasel.
— Claude Feig (@ClaudeFeig) April 14, 2019
It’s hard to blame the Finnish players and fans for being as mad as they were. But a win’s a win and the record books will only show that Team USA won its fifth straight gold medal.
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