Strong special teams and goaltending propelled the U.S. women to a 3-2 win over Canada on Friday at the Four Nations Cup in a preview of Saturday’s championship game.
American captain Natalie Darwitz scored a power-play goal and Hilary Knight a short-handed one early in the first period to take a 2-0 lead.
Canada pulled even with goals from Rebecca Johnston of Sudbury, Ont., and Marie-Philip Poulin of Beauceville, Que., but Meghan Duggan’s goal with 14 seconds remaining in the second period stood up as the winner.
Canada outshot the U.S. 22-18, but couldn’t solve goalie Jesse Vetter in the third period despite power-play opportunities.
“We just couldn’t put the puck in the net today,” Johnston said. “I think tomorrow we’re going to come out stronger and we’ll get those goals we didn’t get today.”
Vetter made 20 saves, while Canadian counterpart Charline Labonté of Boisbriand, Que., made 15.
It was Labonté’s first start against the U.S. since the world championship final in April, when Canada lost 4-1 in Hämeenlinna, Finland. A sprained ankle in August kept her out of the lineup for almost two months.
“I felt good during the game, but obviously I didn’t come up with the win, so I need to work harder and do better next time,” Labonté said. “It sucks that we lost, but it wasn’t a bad loss. We played well.”
The U.S. remained undefeated a 3-0 in the tournament, while Canada dropped to 2-1.
The two countries meet again in Saturday’s final in Tikkurila, Finland. While head coach Melody Davidson was pleased her team limited U.S. scoring chances, she wasn’t satisfied with how Canada came out of the gates.
“We definitely can’t give up two goals early,” head coach Melody Davidson said. “We played a solid enough game. Our power play needed to pull the trigger when it had the chance and it didn’t, so we’ll address a couple things on the power play.
“Other than that, we need to do what we did and be a little hungrier around the net.”
Sweden beat Finland 2-1 in overtime at Hartwall in the day’s other contest. Those two countries meet again Saturday in the third-place game. The annual Four Nations Cup is Canada’s last international tournament before the Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C. on Feb. 12.
Canada won the last two Olympic gold medals in women’s hockey, but the U.S. has taken back-to-back world championships. Barring an upset, the two countries are expected to meet for gold Feb. 25 in Vancouver.
Twenty-six players are trying out for 21 jobs on the Canadian women’s team. Davidson has not said when she’ll name her final roster.
The U.S. took a 3-2 edge in the season series with Friday’s win. The Americans beat Canada twice at the Hockey Canada Cup in September, but the Canadians responded with victories in two exhibition games.
00:42 – PEN – Ouellette, interference
01:57 – PP GOAL – Darwitz (Knight)
07:50 – PEN – Ruggiero, body checking
08:11 – SH GOAL – Knight
10:52 – PEN – Schmidgall, slashing
12:09 – PP GOAL – Johnston (Mikkelson, Irwin)
20:17 – PEN – Duggan, tripping
27:10 – GOAL – Poulin (Wickenheiser, Agosta)
30:29 – PEN – MacLeod, tripping
39:46 – GOAL – Duggan (Stack)
42:58 – PEN – J. Lamoureux, holding
45:34 – PEN – team, too many players
48:25 – PEN – MacLeod, holding
51:27 – PEN – M. Lamoureux, tripping
53:10 – PEN – Chesson, hooking
55:40 – PEN – Jenner, slashing
57:14 – PEN – Wickenheiser, slashing
W: Vetter (20-22)
L: Labonté (15-18)
SHOTS ON GOAL
3+9+6 = 18
9+9+4 = 22
Goaltenders: Brianne McLaughlin, Molly Schaus, Jessie Vetter. Defence: Kacey Bellamy, Caitlin Cahow, Lisa Chesson, Rachael Drazan, Molly Engstrom, Angela Ruggiero, Kerry Weiland. 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, Carla MacLeod, Meaghan Mikkelson, Colleen Sostorics, Catherine Ward. Forwards: Meghan Agosta, Gillian Apps, Jennifer Botterill, Jayna Hefford, Haley Irwin, Rebecca Johnston, Gina Kingsbury, Caroline Ouellette, Cherie Piper, Marie-Philip Poulin, Sarah Vaillancourt, Jennifer Wakefield, Hayley Wickenheiser.
|UNITED STATES||vs.||CANADA (C)|
|Last Title||reign ends
(+ 1 tie)
|First IHLC Meeting (USA vs. CAN)
CAN 2-1 USA – 04/21/1987 – WWT – North York
|Previous IHLC Meeting (USA vs. CAN)
CAN 5-2 USA – 10/16/2009 – EX – Spokane
|Last IHLC Game
CAN 4-2 FIN – 11/04/2009 – FNC – Kerava
|Next IHLC Game
CAN 5-1 USA – 11/07/2009 – FNC – Tikkurila
Article Credit: Hockey Canada