Vernon’s Anne Cherkowski can hold her head high despite a bitter end to the 2020 Women’s World Under 18 Hockey Championships, as she and Team Canada left Slovakia with a silver medal.
The final game of the tournament took place Thursday, Jan. 2 in Bratislava and saw Canada go head-to-head against their biggest rivals, the United States. Kiara Zanon scored just under 17 minutes into the overtime period to give the Americans a 2-1 victory and their fifth gold in six years.
Cherkowski finished the tournament with a goal and two assists in five games. The 17-year-old forward registered two shots on goal in the gold-medal game – a game in which Canada peppered U.S. goalie Skylar Vetter with 34 shots.
The U.S. opened the scoring in the first period when Abbey Murphy placed a wrist shot from the high slot over the shoulder of Canadian goaltender Eve Gascon. In the second period Canada’s Sarah Paul knotted the score after taking a pass from Ann Frederik Naud from behind the U.S. goal line for a tap-in goal.
It was a wonder that the 3-on-3, sudden-death overtime lasted nearly 17 minutes given the number of high-danger chances seen at either side of the ice.
The tension reached a peak around the 13th minute of overtime when the Americans got in behind the defence for a brief 2-0 and hit the post, followed by a breakaway for Canada the other way that Vetter was just able to turn aside, deflecting the puck over the glass.
Things played out differently for Canada in their earlier matchup against the U.S. in the preliminary rounds. Cherkowski scored just 20 seconds into the game while Gascon stopped 37 shots and held a shutout for 59 minutes and 58 seconds en route to a 2-1 victory.
Cherkowski, a returning player and assistant captain, was a member of the Canadian squad that got the better of the U.S. in last year’s finals in Obihiro, Japan. It was Canada’s fifth U18 Championship gold, and since the tournament began in 2008 only Canada and the U.S. have claimed the top spot.
Run by the International Ice Hockey Federation, the women’s championships began on Dec. 26.
Canada’s Under-20 men’s team squares off against Finland in the semi-finals on Saturday, Jan. 4 at 9:30 a.m.