BUDAPEST, Hungary - Sydney Baldwin (Shorewood, Minn.) and Rebecca Gilmore (Wayland, Mass.) each scored power-play goals and Kenzie Kent (Norwell, Mass.) added an even-strength tally midway through the third period to lift the U.S. Women's National Under-18 Team past the Czech Republic, 3-1, in the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women's World Championship semifinals here today.
“The Czech Republic was a difficult opponent tonight and I was proud of our team’s resiliency, for not getting down when they tied the game,” said U.S. head coach Jeff Kampersal. “We earned the win by maintaining our composure, working hard and sticking to our game.”
With the victory, Team USA (4-0-0-0) will now play in tomorrow’s gold-medal game against Canada, which advanced by beating Russia in overtime, 1-0. It will be the seventh-straight year that the tournament champion will hail from North America, with the Americans and Canadians splitting the six previous gold medals three apiece.
Against the Czechs, Team USA scored first, but couldn’t pull away despite a 21-1 first-period advantage in shots on goal. A Czech Republic goal late in the second period evened the score, and Team USA faced a 1-1 deadlock entering the third period. But with fresh ice and a power play to begin the stanza, Gilmore’s goal at 1:12, assisted by Taylar Cianfarano (Oswego, N.Y.) and Jincy Dunne (O’Fallon, Mo.), broke the tie.
Eight minutes later, Cianfarano notched another assist on Kent’s insurance goal to give the U.S. a 3-1 lead and breathing room. Draining the remaining minutes with a determined puck-possession effort, Team USA held the Czech Republic without a single shot on goal in the third period, including a final 60 seconds spent entirely in the offensive zone, making it impossible for Czech goaltender Klara Peslarova to leave for an extra attacker.
For the game, Peslarova stopped 58 of the 61 American shots, while her counterpart, Kaitlin Burt (Lynn, Mass.), trapped all but one of the Czech Republic’s nine shots to earn her second win of the tournament.
Taylor Williamson (Edina, Minn.) and Grace Bizal (Minnetonka, Minn.) also recorded single assists for Team USA, which will take on Canada tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. A live streaming broadcast of the gold-medal game will be available at www.iihf.com.
Game Notes: Team captain Jincy Dunne, who recorded an assist on the game-winning goal, was named U.S. Player of the Game ... Taylar Cianfarano continued her stellar efforts in the face-off circle, winning 12 of 14 draws. She leads all tournament players with an 80-percent face-off winning percentage. She is also the tournament’s leading point-scorer through four games with six goals and two assists for eight points ... Reagan Carey (Colorado Springs, Colo.), USA Hockey's director of women's hockey, is serving as the general manager of Team USA at the 2014 IIHF Under-18 Women's World Championship ... Jeff Kampersal (Pennington, N.J.), head women's ice hockey coach at Princeton University, is the head coach of the U.S. Women's National Under-18 Team for the 2013-14 season ... The assistant coaches are Courtney Kennedy (Somerville, Mass.), associate women's ice hockey coach at Boston College, and Katie Lachapelle (Winthrop, Mass.), assistant women's ice hockey coach at Boston University. The team was selected following the U.S. Women's National Under-18 Team Winter Camp, held Dec. 27-31, at Schwan's Super Rink in Blaine, Minn. The IIHF Under-18 Women's World Championship is being played for the seventh time and will include teams from Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Japan, Russia, Sweden and the United States. Team USA captured gold in the first two years of the tournament (2008, 2009) and again in 2011 before winning the silver medal in 2010, 2012 and 2013.