Krzyzaniak on winning second straight gold medal: 'The feeling never gets old'


By: Lanny Stewart

Talk about an impressive feat for Neepawa's Halli Krzyzaniak.

The 17-year-old blueliner won her second consecutive gold medal at the World under-18 women's hockey championship on Saturday, helping her Canadian teammates defeat the U.S. 2-1 in overtime in the championship final in Finland.

The victory was hard to come by for Krzyzaniak and Team Canada as the club trailed the U.S. until late in the third period. With only 13 seconds left in the game, Catherine Dubois netted the tying marker -- and in the process, abruptly lifted her teammates from the depths of despair.

"When we got that goal, there was a huge sense of relief and confidence," said Krzyzaniak. "After that goal, I had no doubt in my mind that we would win the game."

Karly Heffernan netted the game-winner 58 seconds into overtime to give Canada the win. It's the second straight title for Canada, who finished the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record. Krzyzaniak was a member of the Canadian squad that defeated the U.S. in last year's gold medal game in the Czech Republic.

"The fact that it's the second championship for me doesn't make it any less sweet," she said with a smile. "The feeling never gets old."

Not only did Krzyzaniak take home a gold medal, she was also named the top defenceman at the event, finishing the tournament with two goals and seven points.

"Winning the award is a major achievement for me. To be recognized at the highest level for my age group is something that is really special to me. It shows that all of my hard work and time is paying off."

Krzyzaniak was joined by two other Westman products on the team. Brandon's Ashleigh Brykaliuk and Bruxelles' Cassidy Carels were also members of the Canadian squad.

Krzyzaniak plans to finish up the rest of her hockey season with the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna, B.C. before heading back to Manitoba for the off-season. In the fall, she'll head to the University of North Dakota where she'll play for the Fighting Sioux women's hockey program.

In photo: Halli Krzyzaniak looks on during a game at the World under-18 women's hockey championship. Bottom: the Canadian team celebrates winning the gold medal moments after defeating the U.S. in the championship final. Photos submitted