Kirk wins gold with Team Canada at U18 Championships
OBIHIRO, Japan – For the first time in five years, Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team has won gold at the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship, defeating the United States 3-2 in overtime on Sunday in Obihiro.
Maddi Wheeler (Erinsville, Ont./Nepean, PWHL) drove hard to the net and jammed home her own rebound just 1:34 into overtime, giving Canada its fifth world title and first since 2014.
“I picked the puck up in the neutral zone, Coopsy [Kendall Cooper] passed it off to me. We were on a 4-on-3 power play so I had some space,” said Wheeler. “I drove wide and picked up my own rebound. We had a good net drive, so it was wide open.”
Canada jumped out to an early lead just under eight minutes in when Danielle Serdachny (Edmonton/Pursuit of Excellence, CSSHL) picked up the rebound of anAlexie Guay (Magog, Que./North American Hockey Academy, JWHL) shot from the point. Julia Gosling (London, Ont./London, PWHL) also recorded an assist on the goal.
The United States tied the game late in the second period before taking a 2-1 lead just over six minutes into the third. Anne Cherkowski (Vernon, B.C./Pursuit of Excellence, CSSHL) evened the score at 2-2 with less than nine minutes remaining after being set up by Gosling and Serdachny.
“We are incredibly proud of our team’s effort and our athletes’ ability to overcome adversity when we found ourselves trailing in the game,” said head coach Howie Draper (Edmonton/University of Alberta, CW). “It’s a great feeling to win a world championship and bring a gold medal back to Canada, and I couldn’t be more proud of our athletes and staff for this amazing accomplishment.”
Goaltender Raygan Kirk (Ste. Anne, Man./Eastman, MFMHL) finished with 25 saves in the win and earned tournament Most Valuable Player honours.
Following the gold medal game, the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship awards recipients were announced. Guay was named Top Defenceman and earned a spot on the all-star team, while Gosling, Serdachny and Kendall Cooper (Burlington, Ont./Stoney Creek, PWHL) were named the top three players for Canada.
Player flight arrival information for Monday, Jan. 14 – all times local:
AC 271 – 11:34 p.m. – Raygan Kirk
For more information on Hockey Canada and Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along through social media onFacebook, Twitter, and Twitter.com/HC_Women.