After a gut-wrenching loss to Canada in last year’s World Championship game, Team USA was looking to flip the script this year in Brampton, Ontario. They made some big roster moves ahead of the tournament. They were faster, younger, and hungrier than ever.
With Kendall Coyne Schofield taking time away from the team while pregnant with her first child, the team was without its captain and turned to a familiar face to lead the charge for the ladies in red, white, and blue.
For the first time in her Hall of Fame career, Hilary Knight would suit up for the United States with a C on her chest. And did she ever rise to the occasion.
But first, a little background video for anyone somehow unfamiliar with Knight.
That’s Captain Knight
It was the 33-year old’s 13th World Championship as a member of Team USA. Since she made her international debut back in 2009, Knight has won eight gold medals and four silver medals at the World Championships.
If you look back at some of the Team USA captains before Knight, you’ll see names of Cammi Granato, Julie Chu, Meghan Duggan and most recently, Kendall Coyne Schofield. That’s a deep and historic list that Knight fits perfectly on.
She entered the tournament as the all-time leading point scorer at the Women’s World Championship, but like she’s made clear her whole career, she wanted more from herself and those around her.
From puck drop in game one, Knight was on a mission. In Team USA’s opening game against Japan, she led the way with her play both on and off the puck. In USA’s 7-1-win, Knight scored a goal and had two assists. She won every puck battle, blocked shots left and right, and led by example to the young core of players with her on the ice.
Heading into the gold medal game at this year’s World Championships, Canada and the United States had met in the title game 20 times in the 21 years that the tournament has been played. Canada led the way with 12 gold medals, while the Americans had nine.
The rivalry continues…
There’s a reason Canada vs USA is known as one of the best rivalries in sports. Each time they met at any stage they both elevate each other’s compete level to the next level. There’s just something special about them going head-to-head, especially when it’s for gold.
In the six games played before the championship, Knight had five goals and four assists and was two points away from making Women’s Worlds history as the first player to reach 100 points in tournament play. As nice as the milestone sounded, Knight was more focused on winning her ninth World Championship.
Knight’s first goal of the game came off a beautiful pass from Amanda Kessel to tie the game 2-2 in the 2nd period. Not long after, Brianne Jenner of Team Canada scored her second of the period to give Canada the lead once again. At intermission, Team USA found itself down a goal and 20 minutes from heart break.
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) April 17, 2023
It took just over fives minutes into the 3rd for the young American group to battle back and silence the home Canadian crowd. Caroline Harvey let a point shot fly that found the back of the net and once again, the game was tied. As the clock ticked down in the 3rd, it seemed like overtime was inevitable, especially in a tight game between Canada and the United States.
Throughout the entirety of the gold medal game, the US had yet to hold a lead. After a tripping call and a delay of game penalty taken back-to-back by Canada, Knight and company had a 5-on-3 power-play with just over three minutes remaining in regulation. With all the time and space in the world, the US Captain teed up a shot and the rest was history.
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) April 17, 2023
Knight’s 100th career point at the Women’s World Championship would go on to be the golden goal in the US’s quest for its 10th title. Knight would later go on to complete her golden hat-trick as she scored on the power-play just over a minute after the go-ahead goal.
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) April 17, 2023
If you’ve ever watched Knight step on the ice, you are aware of how dominant she truly is. She can take over a game in an instant and the 2023 Women’s World Championship might be the best example of her doing so.
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