York University Lions women’s hockey head coach Dan Church led Team Canada to the gold medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) women’s world hockey championship in Burlington, Vermont, on Saturday, where the Canadians defeated the United States 5 to 4 in overtime.
Church, who was behind the bench as head coach for the Canadian national team for the third straight international event, was joined in Vermont by Lions strength and conditioning coach Adam Douglas, who served in the same role at the championship.
Click here to watch a one-on-one interview with Church following the game.
Canada won the gold medal, its first at the world championship since 2007, thanks to a goal by Caroline Ouellette just 1:50 into overtime, capping a thrilling contest against the Americans that saw multiple lead changes.
The Canadians scored first and led by as much as 3 to 1 in the second period, but the Americans fought back and scored three unanswered power-play goals to take a 4 to 3 lead early in the third period. Canada finally got the equalizer with just two and a half minutes left on the clock to force the extra period.
Church was an assistant coach with the silver-medal winning squad last year and soon after was named the head coach for Canada for the 2011 IIHF 12 Nations Invitational Tournament and the 2011 4 Nations Cup.
He was named the head coach for the world championship team in February and was lauded after the gold medal game for his tremendous work behind the bench, rallying his players after a tough 9 to 2 loss to the Americans in the first game of the tournament one week earlier with the mottos “pressure is a privilege” and “skills and sandpaper.” The first he borrowed from tennis sensation Billie Jean King and the second was the style of play he felt the Canadians had to exhibit in order to knock off the Americans.
Before joining the national team, Church led the Lions women’s hockey team to its best season in more than a decade. The Lions finished fifth in the OUA standings before knocking off the defending Ontario University Athletics (OUA) champion Queen’s University Gaels in the first round of the playoffs and came within a game of the OUA championship final, falling to the Western University Mustangs in game 3 of their semifinal series.
The Lions will return to the ice in September. The full 2012-2013 OUA schedule will be released next month.