Burnaby's Kimberly Newell gave Canadian hockey a gold medal to cheer about, backstopping the under-18 women's national hockey team to a world title in Finland on Saturday.
Newell, a freshman goalie at Princeton University, was named Canada's player of the game, stopping 39 of 40 shots, including 20 in the opening period, to pace Canada to a 2-1 overtime victory over the United States at the International Ice Hockey Federation world championships in Heinola, Finland.
The win gave Canada its third u-18 women's title and second in a row, tying it with the United States for most wins since the competition began in 2008. Canada also claimed a world title in 2010.
Trailing 1-0 through all the second period and much of the third, Catherine Dubois of Quebec City sent the game into extra time with the game-tying marker at 19:47 of the final frame.
The last-minute goal stopped the U.S.'s new shutout record streak at the u-18 worlds at 299 minutes.
Karly Heffernan, a St. Albert, Alta., native, then tallied the title-winning counter with just 58 seconds gone in the first overtime period.
"Winning the gold medal ... it just feels amazing," Bellevue, Ont., linemate Hannah Bunton, who assisted on the game-winning goal, said in an online world hockey association press release. "We've worked so hard for it and put in so much effort in the last two weeks, and it just feels amazing."
Bunton got possession of the puck behind the net in the U.S. zone and backhanded a pass to Heffernan, who buried her shot from the slot to the far corner of the goal past U.S. keeper Sidney Peters.
But a huge first-period stand by Newell gave Canada the opportunity it needed to find its skates after a slow start.
Outshot 20-1 in the opening period, Newell allowed the only goal by the U.S., but made what sportcasters described as a "fantastic paddle save" to deny the Americans a second counter on what appeared to be a sure goal midway through the period.
"It's all about preparation," said the 17-year-old Newell in the release. "I felt like I really prepared well for this game and despite the number of shots, we were able to push back and get stronger later in the game."
Newell was named the goalie for the all-world tournament team by the media. She also led all goalkeepers with a 96.00 save percentage, while allowing just three goals, including two on power plays, in three starts for the Canadians.
Newell made 72 saves and gave up just one regular-strength goal in the competition, while posting her first international shutout in a 4-0 victory over host Finland in a preliminary pool matchup on Dec. 30.
"It was an exciting game, we knew it was going to be a battle," added Canadian head coach Jim Fetter. "The first period we were on our heels, but our goaltender played well and gave us an opportunity to stay in the game. After that, we just kept rolling and the momentum eventually swung our way."