PREROV, Czech Republic -- Grace Zumwinkle (Excelsior, Minn.) netted a hat-trick and Taylor Wente (Plymouth, Minn.) notched a goal and an assist as the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 Team defeated Russia, 6-0, here today in the semifinals of the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women’s World Championship.
With the victory, Team USA (3-0-1-0) advances to the gold-medal game tomorrow (Jan. 14) at 1 p.m. ET against rival Canada. That game will be streamed live at u18worldwomen2017.iihf.com.
"We came out and played a strong offensive game and dictated the pace of the game," said Joel Johnson, head coach of the U.S. Women's National Under-18 Team. “We've put ourselves in a position to accomplish our ultimate goal of winning a gold medal and look forward to facing Canada tomorrow.”
Zumwinkle opened the scoring for Team USA 3:39 into play when she collected a feed from Clair DeGeorge (Anchorage, Alaska) in the slot and slid a backhand shot past Russian goaltender Valeria Merkusheva.
The U.S. doubled its lead with 9:55 left in the opening frame on Zumwinkle’s second tally of the game. Zumwinkle picked up the puck behind the net, skated around a pair of defenders to the right faceoff dot and beat Merkusheva with a wrist shot.
The U.S. extended its advantage to 4-0 with two goals in the first 3:56 of the middle frame. First, Wente buried a backhand shot off a cross-crease pass by Taylor Heise (Lake City, Minn.) at 1:01 of the period. Just 2:55 later, Catherine Skaja (New Prauge, Minn.) put home a loose puck in front of the net.
After both teams failed to convert on extended 5-on-3 advantages, Zumwinkle completed the hat-trick with a power-play goal from the left faceoff dot to make it 5-0 with 6:55 remaining in the second period.
Natalie Heising (Maple Grove, Minn.) accounted for the 6-0 final with Team USA’s second power-play goal of the game with 2:43 left in the second stanza.
Lindsay Reed (New Vernon, N.J.) finished with six saves to earn her second shutout victory of the tournament.
For complete game statistics, click here.
The U.S. has now earned a trip to the gold-medal game in every year of the IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championship since the tournament began in 2008. Team USA has earned the gold-medal the last two years and in five of its nine appearances overall.
NOTES: Grace Zumwinkle was named U.S. Player of the Game … Team USA outshot Russia 51-6 while finishing 2-for-5 on the power play and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill … All games from the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women's World Championship are being streamed live at u18worldwomen2017.iihf.com. Follow @USAHockey on Twitter for live scoring updates with the #U18WWC hashtag.