The United States left the building that will host the Olympic gold-medal game in women’s hockey in six months with more confidence than Canada.
The Americans won the Hockey Canada Cup with a 2-1 win over Canada at GM Place, which will be called Canada Hockey Place for the Olympics next February.
The tournament was an Olympic test event and the Canadians have homework to do after losing two games in four days to their archrival, including a 4-2 loss in the preliminary round.
“It’s frustrating and there’s no question we would have liked to have come away with a win,” Canadian captain Hayley Wickenheiser said. “I don’t know if they are in our heads, but it would certainly be nice to get a win the next time we play them whenever that is.”
Captain Natalie Darwitz and Monique Lamoureux scored power-play goals for the U.S., which has now beaten Canada in the last four major international tournaments, including the 2008 and 2009 World Championships.
“Hopefully we’re doing this in late February,” Darwitz said. “It’s good to get a grasp on this building and to have a few wins in this building obviously. We’ll take some confidence from this weekend, but it’s a long season ahead.”
Goaltender Jesse Vetter won her fifth straight start against Canada. She was Canada’s nemesis again Sunday with 34 saves, including 19 in the first period.
Meghan Agosta of Ruthven, Ont., replied for the hosts in front of 8,137 at GM Place. Kim St-Pierre of Chateauguay, Que., had 27 saves in the loss.
Canada and the U.S. have met in the final of every World Championship and Olympics, except the 2006 Winter Games final which featured Canada and Sweden.
But the U.S. has now won six of their last eight games against their northern rival and barring a major upset, the two countries are expected to meet for Olympic gold again Feb. 25.
“Nobody said it was going to be easy,” Canadian head coach Melody Davidson said. “They keep telling us its hard to play in an Olympic Games in your own country so I guess we’re living that right now.”
The two countries will face each other in a six-game series in Canadian and U.S. cities and will also meet again at the Four Nations Cup in Finland in November.
The U.S. is down to a 23-player roster, while Canada is carrying 26 players trying out for the Olympic team. Women’s teams can carry 21 players at the Games. Davidson has not said when she plans to name her Olympic squad.
The first period Sunday featured multiple scoring chances for Canada as they outshot the U.S. 20-9, managed just a power-play goal on a two-man advantage.
The pace fell off in the second and third period as players seemed to tire playing their fifth game in seven days. Canada struggled in its attempts to generate the tying goal after falling behind 2-1 early in the third.
Canada had five power-play chances and the U.S. two over the final 40 minutes of the game, yet the hosts were outshot 19-15 over that span. Canada went 1-for-8 with a man advantage.
“We’ve still got 26 (players) trying to get down to an Olympic team,” Wickenheiser said. “We need to get down to some specialty teams and work on some units, which we don’t really have. It’s sort of been all over the place this week.
“Knowing that we’re building along the way here, we just have to stay with it.”
Darwitz’s power-play goal at 1:28 in the third period stood up as the winner as Wickenheiser was in the penalty box for slashing.
Julie Chu put the puck off the backboards and as it flew back toward Canada’s net, the U.S. captain batted the puck over St-Pierre’s pad.
Canada had a two-man advantage to end the first period because of bodychecking and interference penalties to Gigi Marvin and Caitlin Cahow. Both Agosta and Marie-Philip Poulin pounced on a rebound off a Wickenheiser shot from the point. Agosta got her stick on it to bat it by Vetter at 19:35 to tie the game 1-1.
With just three seconds left on a U.S. power play Lamoureux threw the puck on net from a deep angle. The puck went off the skate of Canadian forward Sarah Vaillancourt and slid past St-Pierre’s outstretched pad at 8:27.
Finland edged Sweden 1-0 for bronze earlier on a goal from Jenni Hiirikoski. Goaltender Noora Räty made 23 saves for the shutout and Swedish counterpart Kim Martin had 39 saves in the loss.
Toronto forward Cherie Piper did not play for Canada in the final because of an elbow injury she suffered in a pre-game skate Saturday. Darwitz was in the U.S. lineup despite a hard hit in the previous day’s semifinal versus Finland.
Davidson made veteran defenders Gillian Ferrari and Becky Kellar her healthy scratches in the final and said it was simply their turn to sit. “Maybe some day players will sit because I didn’t like the way they were playing, but that’s not the case right now,” she said prior to the game.
Goaltender Charline Labonté (ankle), forward Jennifer Wakefield (shoulder) and Delaney Collin (post-concussion) did not play any games during the tournament.
The Canadian women have the week off before they resume training in Calgary. They’ll participate in a tournament with men’s midget triple-A teams Sept. 24-27 and open the first of their six-game series against the U.S. starting Oct. 5 in Victoria.
Notes: Canada is 48-34-1 all-time versus the U.S…Jillian Harris from the television reality series The Bachelorette attended the game…Canada and the U.S. will also meet Oct. 16 in Spokane, Wash.; Dec. 12 in Denver; Dec. 15 in Calgary; Dec. 30 in St. Paul. Minn., and Jan. 1 in Ottawa.
04:00 – PEN – Darwitz, hooking
06:29 – PEN – Apps, hooking
08:27 – PP GOAL – M. Lamoureux (J. Lamoureux, Zaugg)
11:03 – PEN – Apps, body checking
17:56 – PEN – Marvin, body checking
18:48 – PEN – Cahow, interference
19:35 – PP GOAL – Agosta (Wickenheiser, Poulin)
26:46 – PEN – Thatcher, hooking
28:45 – PEN – Johnston, roughing
28:45 – PEN – Irwin, roughing
28:45 – PEN – Bellamy, roughing
32:05 – PEN – Stack, roughing
37:38 – PEN – Engstrom, interference
40:43 – PEN – Wickenheiser, slashing
41:18 – PP GOAL – Darwitz (Chu, Cahow)
46:07 – PEN – Bellamy, delay of game
53:21 – PEN – Bellamy, tripping
57:03 – PEN – Poulin, delay of game
W: Vetter (34-35)
L: St-Pierre (23-25)
SHOTS ON GOAL
9+9+11 = 25
20+7+8 = 35
Goaltenders: Brianne McLaughlin, Molly Schaus, Jessie Vetter. Defence: Kacey Bellamy, Caitlin Cahow, Lisa Chesson, Rachael Drazan, Molly Engstrom, Angela Ruggiero, Kerry Welland. Forwards: Julie Chu, Natalie Darwitz, Meghan Duggan, Angie Keseley, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Monique Lamoureux, Erika Lawler, Gigi Marvin, Jenny Schmidgall, Kelli Stack, Karen Thatcher, Jinelle Zaugg.
Goaltenders: Charline Labonté, Kim St-Pierre, Shannon Szabados. Defence: Tessa Bonhomme, Delaney Collins, Gillian Ferrari, Becky Kellar, Jocelyne Larocque, Carla MacLeod, Meaghan Mikkelson, Colleen Sostorics, Catherine Ward. Forwards: Meghan Agosta, Gillian Apps, Jennifer Botterill, Jayna Hefford, Haley Irwin, Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Johnston, Gina Kingsbury, Caroline Ouellette, Cherie Piper, Marie-Philip Poulin, Sarah Vaillancourt, Jennifer Wakefield, Hayley Wickenheiser.
|UNITED STATES (C)||vs.||CANADA|
(+ 1 tie)
|First IHLC Meeting (USA vs. CAN)
CAN 2-1 USA – 04/21/1987 – WWT – North York
|Previous IHLC Meeting (USA vs. CAN)
USA 4-2 CAN – 09/03/2009 – HCC – Vancouver
|Last IHLC Game
USA 4-0 FIN – 09/05/2009 – HCC – Vancouver
|Next IHLC Game
CAN 3-1 USA – 10/05/2009 – EX – Victoria