By Dan Plouffe
It seemed like it was just about time for fans to head for the exits when Team Canada scored an empty-net goal to extend their lead to 3-1 over USA with under 2-and-a-half minutes to play at the Women’s Hockey World Championships last evening in Brampton.
But instead, it was just the beginning of another incredible chapter in one of sport’s best rivalries, and Ottawa’s Jamie Lee Rattray got to pen the final words.
“What a hockey game,” Rattray smiled during a post-game interview on TSN. “What a win. I’m really proud of the group. We played a really complete game and everyone contributed.”
Before then came a wild sequence of events as the rivals, both 3-0 up to that point in the tournament, turned their final preliminary round game into a classic.
There was a lengthy delay after Hilary Knight found the back of the net to perhaps pull USA within one. The arena scoreboard clock had gone out, but play continued for an extended period of time. Ultimately officials determined that the puck went in with 39 seconds left.
Canada challenged that the play had been offside, which most observers concluded from replays, but the referees allowed the goal to stand.
“It was a little bit of a weird ending. I don’t think I’ve ever played where the clock just goes out like that,” Rattray reflected. “A lot of us were just joking around (on the bench), keeping it light, because whatever happens, you can’t control it.”
With four seconds left, USA’s Amanda Kessel banged home a rebound to send the game to overtime. Both teams had powerplays during the 5-minute 3-on-3 OT, but neither would score, leading to a shootout.
Canada’s Brianne Jenner and Knight each scored in the shootout’s opening round, and then Canada and USA combined to miss 15 attempts in a row.
Team Canada head coach Troy Ryan then turned to Rattray, and the 30-year-old winger from Kanata finally made the move that worked with a forehand to backhand deke that sent the CAA Centre crowd into an even bigger frenzy.
“I’ve shot in a couple of shootouts in the past, but [Ryan] just turned to me and said ‘Are you ready, Ratty?’ and I said ‘Yeah, sure,’ and I think after that I just blacked out,” Rattray recalled via Hockey Canada. “As soon as I touched the puck, it got really loud. That was a ton of fun.
“What a cool feeling. I don’t even remember what I did after (I scored) because I was so excited. I just screamed out loud because that’s all I could think of.”
Rattray was perhaps a bit of an unlikely hero in the contest. She’s only been called on for limited ice time with Team Canada, having averaged 8:43 during four preliminary round games.
But the 2022 Olympic champion makes the most of her appearances, which often includes time on the powerplay. Rattray registered assists in Canada’s opening 4-0 win over Switzerland and a 5-0 victory over Japan, while the Canadians also beat Czechia 5-1 before the game against USA.
“The most proud thing is we won as a team, everyone contributed and everyone made important plays in the game,” added the Kanata Blazers/Ottawa Lady Sens product. “Obviously we don’t want to give up two goals at the end, but we stayed calm and resilient. I think that’s something we can take away from this game, and I think that’s what makes a good hockey team.”
Canada will play next in a quarter-final on Wednesday, with semi-finals set for Saturday and medal matches on Sunday.
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