By DEVIN BATES
Sports Intern, WSU 2018
Former Westfield resident Kacey Bellamy and the U.S. women’s national hockey team captured their fourth straight world hockey championship on Friday, beating rival Canada 3-2 in a thrilling overtime finish.
Bellamy, a 29 year-old defenseman, scored two goals for Team U.S.A. in one of the greatest performances of her decorated career.
After the game, Bellamy spoke to Andrew Podnieks, a writer for the International Ice Hockey Federation.
“The last time we played at home we lost to them in Vermont, and we didn’t want that feeling again,” Bellamy told Podnieks. “The support we’ve had the last few weeks has been incredible, so we wanted to win this for the fans.”
Bellamy grew up in Westfield, playing travel hockey in a boys’ league and later attending the Berkshire School in Sheffield. It wasn’t a cakewalk to hockey greatness for Bellamy, however. In an article she wrote for The Player’s Tribune, Bellamy described her first few weeks at the Berkshire School as “the worst two weeks of my life.”
Bellamy would eventually find her stride, however, going on to letter in hockey, field hockey and softball. After her time at the Berkshire School, Bellamy enrolled at the University of New Hampshire, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies in 2009.
Bellamy was most recently seen in Westfield at the 2016 Babe Ruth World Series, where she talked with spectators and showcased her two Olympic medals, a silver from the 2010 Vancouver Games and another silver from Sochi in 2014.
Bellamy’s first goal came with 15:28 left in the first period, a ripping slapshot past Team Canada goaltender Shannon Szabados from several feet in front of the blue line. Kendall Coyne set up the play.
In the third period, Bellamy was at it again, this time flicking a point-blank shot into the upper right corner of the net to make it 2-1. The two goals were the only ones Bellamy scored in the entire tournament, and they could not have come at a better time.
Canada was not ready to throw in the towel, however.
Late in the third period, Canada became energized by an unassisted goal from forward Brianne Jenner that knotted the game at 2-2. Team Canada had not won the tournament since 2012, an exceptionally long time for a nation prided on being a hockey powerhouse.
With the score tied 2-2 at the end of regulation, the tournament final went to overtime, setting the stage for Hillary Knight to convert a pass from Kendall Coyne on an odd-man rush to beat Canada and secure the United States’ fourth consecutive world hockey championship.
The U.S. women’s team made headlines in late March when they announced they would be going on strike until they were given the same luxuries that the men were offered during international competition. This included business class flights, nicer hotels, and a bigger paycheck. The team won the strike, and many players believe this helped galvanize the team heading into the tournament.
“We knew that was going to be a bond that was unbreakable,” Hillary Knight told the Associated Press. Knight scored the overtime goal for Team U.S.A.
After the celebration is over for this victory, Bellamy and her teammates will begin to gear up for a new test: the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The top five teams in the IIHF World Rankings automatically qualify, so Bellamy and Team U.S.A. have already begun preparation along with Canada, Finland, Russia and Sweden. It will be Bellamy’s third Olympics.
Team U.S.A. will likely have to face Canada again in PyeongChang. The last time these two teams met in an Olympic game was 2014 in Sochi, when Canada beat the United States 3-2 in overtime.