Hannah Gotze’s goal with 30 seconds left in regulation sent the Germans to the A Division.
One of the toughest things to do in sport is to defeat an opponent back-to-back. For Team Canada at the U19 WFC, in its own backyard, that was the task ahead as it met head-on with Germany in the B Final, a team the Canadians had beaten in a thrilling preliminary game two nights earlier, 5-4.
It was not to be.
Germany struck for some late-game magic and squeezed out a 6-5 victory to secure promotion to the A Division for the 2018 championships. Canada will have to wait for two more years to get another chance.
Canada’s Hannah Wilson started the scoring, drilling a shot from medium-range off a loose-ball exchange in the mid-court, 1-0. Just a minute later, Shania Anderson tipped in a point shot from Kieva Earle, and Canada had a quick two-goal lead. Wilson was sent off at the eight-minute mark for roughing, but the Germans could not connect on the power play. Goaltender Madison Brinklow made a huge save from the left slot to preserve the shutout. Just under seven minutes later, the Germans cut the lead in half when Randi Kleerbaum rifled a sizzling wrist shot from the right point; Brinklow had no chance. The Germans pressed late in the period but Brinklow was solid between the pipes.
The Germans squared things 2:15 into the second period, Kleerbaum left alone in the centre-slot to convert a spectacular cross-pass from Anna-Lena Best. Two minutes later, Germany took the lead when Derya Gokmen’s crisp pass found Best wide open in the left slot – and she drilled it home, high-right, 3-2. The Canadians had a power play opportunity at the 12-minute mark, a chance to tie things up. They did. Rachel Smith buried a wrist shot from the left point, 3-3. But the Germans replied quickly, Best left with too much space and scoring her second goal from the right slot at 15:45. Less then three minutes later, Best scored again off Kleerbaum’s feed, and the Germans took a 5-3 lead into the third period. A critical four-goal effort for the visitors.
Plenty of neutral-zone play to start the third session. Both teams were flagged for penalties in the 9th minute, and the four-on-four produced little in terms of scoring chances. About 11 minutes in, Germany’s Best had a clear break-away but missed wide. Canada’s star forward Kathryn Kennedy, with a tournament-leading 11 goals, was given minimal time and space to work her magic, the German defence just too sound in the attack zone.
Then, the tide turned. Canada scored two goals in 22 seconds – Kieva Earle and Kaitlyn Fung – and the game was tied yet again, 5-5, with less than three minutes on the clock. Germany’s Maria Sick slammed the ball off the crossbar with about a minute to play, still tied. With 30 seconds left, Hannah Gotze managed to wiggle into the clear on the left post and the ball trickled in past Brinklow for the go-ahead goal. Canada tried a last-minute blitz but the Germans shut the door for good.
Anna-Lena Best with a four-point game as Germany joins the ranks of the A Division after a successful visit to Canada at the U19 WFC.
Players of the Game:
Germany – Anna-Lena Best
Canada – Hannah Wilson