2017-01-19 / Sports

Drake’s blue-collar tally helps Team USA top Canada, win gold

By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff

Delaney Drake had probably heard the adage 1,000 times: Good things happen when you put pucks on net.

Drake put the age-old hockey adage to the test in the Czech Republic during the biggest game of her young career on Saturday — and it rang true with a moment she may never forget.

The Leland Public School student deflected a puck off the skate of Team Canada goalie Danika Ranger from a bad angle 5:56 into the second period of the International Ice Hockey Federation U18 Women’s World Championship gold medal game, lighting the lamp with a momentum-shifting goal that put the Americans up 1-0 and counted toward a 3-1 win.

“It was indescribable, honestly,” said Drake, a resident of Elmwood Township. “I didn’t even realize I had all my teammates jumping on me.

“It was crazy.”

The power-play goal couldn’t have come at a better time. The Americans had been badly outshot in the first period, 12-3, and needed a boost.

Team Canada tallied an equalizer midway through the third period, but Grace Zumwinkle put Team USA up for good by banging a rebound home with less than three minutes remaining. Emily Oden ripped an insurance tally into an empty Team Canada net with five seconds left in the third, sparking a celebration Drake and her teammates had been dreaming of for years.

Team USA players promptly whipped off their gloves, tossed their sticks and piled on top of goalie Alex Gulstene upon hearing the final horn.

“It was amazing,” said Drake, 17. “My whole hockey career was leading up to that moment. It was something I’ll never forget. It was such an honor to even be there, let alone play.”

The Americans, who have won six of 10 gold medals since the tournament started, outscored opponents 19-3 during their stay in the Czech Republic.

They rolled past Russia 6-1, shut out Sweden 4-0 and suffered a 1-0 overtime loss to Canada in the preliminary round before punching a ticket to the gold medal game by beating Russia again in the semifinals 6-0.

Drake, a Wisconsin commit and the lone Michigander on the U.S. roster, represented the Mitten well with two goals and an assist in those five games.

Only 15 players in the eight-team tournament finished with more points.

“Incredibly proud of her, her effort and the way she contributed to the team all week,” said former Stanley Cup champion and British Columbia native Dallas Drake. “It’s been her dream for a long time and, as a dad, to see her fulfill her dream, it’s pretty emotional. As a parent, I was extremely nervous to watch those games.”

Dallas Drake and his wife, Leland graduate Amy (Boynton Fisher) Drake, were among the family members returning to Leelanau County late Sunday night.

When asked about the tournament on Tuesday, Dallas Drake lauded his daughter’s mental toughness and said her determination, strong skating ability and willingness to work hard have brought her where she is today.

“When she puts her mind to it, she’s capable of doing a lot of things,” he said. “Hopefully this is just the beginning for her.”

Highlights from the gold medal game, including Drake’s second-period goal, are available at u18worldwomen2017.iihf.com.

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