Emily Pfalzer was at the door at the far end of the Team USA bench, getting ready to hit the ice for her next defensive shift.
Then the crowd went silent.
That was a good thing.
It took a moment to see the signal from the referee, but a moment later, Pfalzer knew what had happened – Alex Carpenter had scored in overtime to give the United States a 1-0 win over Canada in the IIHF Women’s World Championships in Kamloops, British Columbia.
“The doors were pretty high so there was no chance I was getting over that thing quickly,” the 5-foot-2 Pfalzer from Getzville said. “So I was right at the door and I was just watching the play and it got really quiet and that was a good sign for us because who would be cheering? Carp went behind the goalie so you couldn’t see it from our angle but then I saw once the ref,” signaled goal “I just ripped the door open and went flying out there.
“We were playing in front of a sold-out crowd in Canada and had just won the gold medal on Canadian soil. It was a pretty surreal experience. Wearing the USA jersey is always an honor and it’s a privilege to wear it for a great coaching staff and alongside amazing players.”
Pfalzer didn’t pick up a point, but she was a plus-2 and a key defensive force in keeping the Canadians off the board in the gold medal game.
The points aren’t as important, after all, when the gold medal is on the line.
And this gold medal game was another classic clash between the U.S. and Canada.
While 2015 was a U.S. win in a 7-5 festival of goals, the 2016 game was a battle of goaltenders. Alex Rigsby made 32 saves matching the efforts of her Canadian counterpart Emerance Maschmeyer, who made 33 saves.
“You’re just so confident. You know that Rigsby has your back,” Pfalzer said of that gold-medal game. “All of our goalies are amazing but the way she was playing there was nothing going past her. We said the puck was like a beach ball to her. She played amazing.
“At that point we just needed on goal. That’s it. And we just kept putting the pressure on them and we knew we were going to get our chances. … You just stay calm and play hockey. If you think about a mistake, you’re going to make a mistake but that’s also why you have teammates. I knew I could make a mistake because I had five other teammates on the ice that have my back.”
Pfalzer brings her second Women’s World Championship gold medal to Buffalo, which she won on her maternal great-grandmother’s 104th birthday. She will take another week off before returning to training. The national team has an off-ice training camp in June then she will spend her time in Buffalo preparing for next season with the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League and another World Championship run in April 2017, this time on American soil in Plymouth, Mich.