MADISON – Ava Murphy will always remember her first time on the ice at LaBahn Arena, playing under the University of Wisconsin’s six women’s hockey national championship banners and in front of a sellout crowd of 2,288 fans.
Her future UW teammates are probably hoping she doesn’t bring it up too much in the upcoming years.
Murphy, committed to the Badgers for the 2023 class, scored a goal and then helped Team Canada’s defense hold on for a 3-2 victory over Team USA on Monday night in the gold medal game of the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women’s World Championship.
“It was a good start on this ice, that’s for sure,” Murphy said. “But just getting to play at LaBahn in general and after they named the team knowing I was going to get to come down to Wisconsin, it’s just so amazing.
“All the fans here, it’s just hard to even describe. I’m just so grateful to get to be a part of it in future years. And getting to play on this ice surface in front of coaches and players, it’s an amazing arena , an amazing atmosphere to be a part of.”
Since the event started in 2008, the Canadians and Americans have met in 13 of the 14 title games. Team Canada has won six of the matchups.
The Americans featured three players who are sticking around campus for summer school before suiting up for UW next season: Laila Edwards, Claire Enright and Kirsten Simms. Four more – Ava McNaughton, Laney Potter, Kelly Gorbatenko and Cassie Hall – have orally committed for the 2023 class like Murphy.
“They did a good job recruiting, that’s for sure,” Murphy said.
It looked like the “USA! USA!” chants might be silenced early after Murphy scored and then Jocelyn Amos added another just under a minute later in the second period to give Team Canada a 3-0 lead.
But Team USA had a flurry of its own later in the second with two goals in seven seconds from Finley McCarthy and Enright.
The Americans could never get the equalizer in the third period, even after peppering Canadian goaltender Mari Pietersen with five shots in the opening four minutes.
Team USA’s best chance came with just under three minutes remaining when Tessa Janecke’s shot bounced off the pipe.
“We were proud of the way we dug ourselves almost out of it,” Team USA coach Katie Lachappelle said. “I think just the effort and our excitement just got back. I think our bench was a little quiet here in the first when we started to get down, which wasn’t typical of us all tournament.
“So for us to pick it up after that was certainly something that we like to see. And then down the stretch we couldn’t pop that last one in.”
Lachappelle pulled her goalie for the final two minutes, but when the buzzer sounded the Canadians threw their helmets, sticks and gloves onto the ice and piled on each other in celebration. Team Canada avenged a 7-0 loss to Team USA in group play.
“We were all watching the (semifinal) game yesterday and we saw that the US won. I think it really motivated us to do what we needed to do,” Murphy said. “But just coming down to it, the last two minutes, and seeing the time run out and knowing we defeated the USA was such an amazing moment for all of us.”
The tournament was canceled in 2021 and was almost called off again in January due to the spread of COVID-19 in Sweden. But Wisconsin and USA Hockey swooped in to save the eight-country event.
“Definitely upset with the ending,” Edwards said. “But I’m still super proud of this group. We invested and went for it. I played with the best girls at our age. Still had fun. Still really proud.”
Despite the loss, Edwards was named the most valuable player of the tournament with four goals and four assists over five games. She’s hoping for better memories at LaBahn with UW, even with Murphy when she finally arrives on campus.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Edwards said. “I’m excited. Getting more excited every day to keep it going with the Badgers.”