The 2012 IIHF Women's World Championship starts Saturday, Apr. 7, in Burlington, Vt. Julie Chu from the United States team and Canadian team member Meghan Agosta will be blogging for NHL.com about their experiences during the tournament.
Before the gold medal game against Canada on Saturday we were able to witness a great moment in women’s hockey. We showed up at the rink early and when we walked in there the Swiss team was actually playing the Finnish team for the first time ever in the bronze medal game. Switzerland actually won their first medal in international play at the A-pool level. I think that was a great victory for them. We can all step back and realize that was a great moment for Women’s hockey that we can have new teams come into the ranks of the top three. It also helped us to increase the intensity and excitement of the gold medal game.
I had goose bumps when I stepped on the ice. It was a great game. It was probably one of the best gold-medal games that I’ve been a part of. I think the atmosphere was again similar to the previous Saturday when we got as chance to play Canada. It was a sold out arena with a ton of American flags and a couple sections of Canadian fans as well, so the atmosphere was incredible. It was really important to have such an incredible crowd to play in front of.
Canada came out flying in the beginning and we expected that because of the previous score that we had against them. We took an early penalty that kind of put us on our heels a little bit and I would say the first ten minutes Canada was playing very solid hockey and we were just trying to settle in but as the rest of the first period progressed, we evened it up and by the end of the first the shots were very even.
Special teams were a huge part of the success of both teams and we ended up going down 3-1 in the second period. It’s a bit of a killer when that happens, but the thing that I loved about our team when I looked around was that there was still a belief that we had the opportunity to win. Even though we were trailing 3-1 at that point, it wouldn’t take much for us to get the tides to turn.
We killed off the big 4 on 3 power play that the Canadians had at one point and I think for us that was huge. The next period we came out and it was a great show and we gained a lot of momentum. Canada took a couple of penalties and that allowed us to score on the power play and the next thing you know, it was 3-3. When that last power play goal was scored, our bench erupted. Everyone was jumping on each other, the enthusiasm was there, the momentum had shifted and the crowd was going crazy and it was late in the second period. Right after that, we went into the locker room and there was a great buzz. We had worked hard, we had fought back from a two-goal deficit and we were ready to keep going.
In the third period, we came out and it was a great period, back and forth. Again we were able to capitalize and went up, 4-3. It was awesome. It was a great moment for us and we played some tough hockey from there. The Canadians though are a great team and they’re really competitive and they were able to poke in a power-play goal late in the third and that brought us into the overtime, 4-4.
In overtime it wasn’t long until Canada scored, it was just 2:00 in. Sometimes, that’s just the way it goes. It’s a sudden death game and we were trying to battle and work hard and unfortunately it went in their favor this time around. It’s a tough pill to swallow because we were playing on our home soil, we just had this incredible comeback, we were competitive and we believed in our team and when you don’t win at the end of it it’s definitely one of those things that stings. It will sting for a little bit but at the same time I’m so proud of the effort our team put towards the entire tournament from game one to two, three, four and into the final game.
We all agreed that if we were going to go on that ice and put on a USA jersey that we were going to play the best that we could and make sure that we were always going to become better after each game and make sure that we were correcting all the little things even if we were successful on a game day. Overall, as far as our team played, it was awesome. Also, the fact that Burlington, V.T., hosted they did such a phenomenal job, it just made my experience that much better.
When we step back from it, in a couple of weeks it’s easier to not have all the raw emotions behind it, but I think we all see what an incredible hockey game that was and anyone that had an opportunity to see it said that it was unreal. So, I was proud to be a part of it and I was proud that our team continued to fight, being down one goal in the first period and coming back then being down two goals, coming back and taking the lead and it was definitely and emotional roller coaster and it was a great experience.
For all of us, right now, once the tournament is over we all head back to our home, we feel a void for a little bit because we just spent three weeks together, training and playing and dedicating our lives to hockey and to each other.
The world championships for us are really the pinnacle of what we work for every year. It’s what we dedicate our lives too, and what we’re passionate about and I’m so grateful that we have an opportunity to be a part of it. There is kind of this lull right now and you have flashbacks from the game and think about it, but, I think that a lot of times when I think back it’s with a lot of smiles and we have some incredible teammates that made this experience so special. The last three weeks have been a testament to that. Now I will get some rest and recovery and in two weeks time I’ll get ready to dedicate myself to another year of training so that we can hopefully have a different result when we get to Ottawa for the 2013 worlds.