In a preview of next year’s World Championships in Ottawa, the top two squads in women’s hockey took to the ice for surely another wild chapter in their infamous history.
Instead, a surprised crowd saw a defensive struggle unfold, with Canada eking out a rivalry rarity, a narrow 1-0 win over the Americans to capture the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
For two teams that typically have very back and forth offensive games, this was a unique matchup that focused on defense – in fact, these two have only played to a 1-0 final four times in their historic rivalry, with the last time being the 2005 World Championships Gold Medal Game. Goalies Shannon Szabados and Molly Schaus were sharp for Canada and the U.S., respectively, with the game being largely held in the middle of the ice, with all three periods going long stretches without shots on goal. Both teams were sharp particularly on the penalty kill, each side killing off three minors each by the midway point of the game.
Laura Fortino’s first international goal was the eventual game winner, taking a cross-ice pass along the blue line from Marie-Philip Poulin that cruised past Schaus to break the shutout at 17:26 of the second period. And despite taking three consecutive body checking penalties in the third, and failing to register a shot on goal until the 12-minute mark of the frame, Canada’s defense in front of Szabados shut down Team USA to hang on for the tight victory. Szabados stopped all 24 shots faced for the shutout, while Schaus stoped 21 of 22 in the loss.
With the win, Canada recaptures the International Hockey Lineal Championship for the 26th time, their first title since winning it from Sweden just prior to November’s Four Nations Cup. The Americans, who held the title as a result of their Gold Medal shootout win over Canada at the aforementioned Four Nations Cup, drops the 105th ever IHLC meeting between these two, and the first meeting since that 4-3 victory in Nyköping, Sweden. Canada will now head south of the border with the IHLC for the 2012 World Championships, facing Sweden first in a pre-tournament exhibition game on April 5 in Jay, Vermont.
03:57 – PEN – Larocque, slashing
05:48 – PEN – Dougherty, holding
08:29 – PEN – Brandt, hooking
11:10 – PEN – Apps, tirpping
17:21 – PEN – Lamoureux, slashing
25:13 – PEN – Apps, hooking
34:51 – PEN – Schleper, delay of game
37:26 – GOAL – Fortino (Poulin)
38:17 – PEN – Bendus, holding
42:26 – PEN – Fortino, body checking
49:48 – PEN – Jenner, body checking
55:25 – PEN – Poulin, body checking
W: Szabados (24-24)
L: Schaus (21-22)
SHOTS ON GOAL
8+9+5 = 22
10+10+4 – 24
Goaltenders: Charline Labonté, Geneviève Lacasse, Shannon Szabados. Defence: Courtney Birchard, Tessa Bonhomme, Sarah Edney, Laura Fortino, Jocelyne Larocque, Meaghan Mikkelson, Lauriane Rougeau, Catherine Ward, Tara Watchorn. Forwards: Meghan Agosta, Gillian Apps, Vicki Bendus, Emmanuelle Blais, Bailey Bram, Jayna Hefford, Haley Irwin, Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Johnston, Caroline Ouellette, Cherie Piper, Marie-Philip Poulin, Jesse Scanzano, Natalie Spooner, Jennifer Wakefield, Hayley Wickenheiser.
Goaltenders: Brianne McLaughlin, Molly Schaus, Jessie Vetter. Defence: Kacey Bellamy, Megan Bozek, Caitlin Cahow, Lisa Chesson, Molly Engstrom, Gigi Marvin, Michelle Picard, Josephine Pucci, Anne Schleper. Forwards: Hannah Brandt, Julie Chu, Kendall Coyne, Brianna Decker, Jillian Dempsey, Brittany Dougherty, Meghan Duggan, Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Monique Lamoureux, Erika Lawler, Jenny Schmidgall, Kelli Stack, Kelly Steadman, Karen Thatcher.