Canada got as close to the International Hockey Lineal Championship as it had since losing the title earlier this month to Team USA in Calgary, but fell 3-2 in a shootout in the fifth of six pre-Olympic exhibition games against Team USA, who retains the IHLC in advance of the series finale in Toronto.
While Canada did put forth a valiant effort, forcing a shootout after a 2-0 deficit after forty minutes, they were unable to solve a calculated U.S. defensive attack, and the play of U.S. goalie Jessie Vetter. The U.S. didn’t open the scoring until midway through the first on a Kelli Stack goal. Canada was unable to capitalize on a number of American penalties, and while they were successful in killing off a 5-on-3 at the start of the second, Alex Carpenter converted a power play goal on Canada’s fourth penalty kill to take the 2-0 lead.
Canada began to fight back in the second, first with Meghan Agosta wiring a Hayley Wickenheiser feed past Vetter, and just over a minute later, Marie-Philip Poulin batted a power play goal past Vetter to even things up in just under a minute, capitalizing on an Anne Schleper body checking call. Overtime solved nothing, and while both Vetter and Canadian netminder Charline Labonté were sharp in net, only Hilary Knight was able to score in the shootout, trickling a rebounded wrist shot off Labonté and in for the Americans’ winning goal.
With the victory, the 117th meeting between these rivals with the IHLC on the line, Team USA retains the IHLC, their 27th, after its third consecutive exhibition game victory over Team Canada. They first won in the third game of the series in Calgary on December 12, and will play the final game of the series in two days’ time in Toronto, with the winner to carry the IHLC to the Sochi Olympics in February.
01:42 – PEN – Decker, roughing
04:40 – PEN – Larocque, interference
08:45 – PEN – Stecklein, holding
09:06 – PEN – J. Lamoureux, boarding
13:54 – GOAL – Stack (Knight)
25:25 – PEN – Wakefield, body checking
25:45 – PEN – Apps, charging
29:22 – PEN – Decker, high sticking
33:52 – PEN – Fry, hooking
39:26 – PEN – Irwin, high sticking
39:51 – PP GOAL – Carpenter (Stack, Bozek)
43:52 – PEN – Marvin, tripping
48:31 – PEN – Irwin, roughing
48:31 – PEN – Pucci, body checking
48:36 – GOAL – Agosta (Wickenheiser)
49:10 – PEN – Schleper, body checking
49:50 – PP GOAL – Poulin (Birchard, Ward)
53:05 – PEN – Larocque, interference
53:15 – PEN – Stack, slashing
W: Vetter (37-39)
L: Labonté (28-30)
SHOTS ON GOAL
9+9+7+5 = 30
11+8+17+2 = 38
Goaltenders: Brianne McLaughlin, Molly Schaus, Jessie Vetter. Defence: Kacey Bellamy, Megan Bozek, Gigi Marvin, Michelle Picard, Josephine Pucci, Anne Schleper, Lee Stecklein. Forwards: Alex Carpenter, Julie Chu, Kendall Coyne, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan (C), Lyndsay Fry, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Monique Lamoureux, Kelli Stack.
Goaltenders: Charline Labonté, Geneviève Lacasse. Defence: Courtney Birchard, Laura Fortino, Jocelyne Larocque, Meaghan Mikkelson, Lauriane Rougeau, Catherine Ward. Forwards: Meghan Agosta, Gillian Apps, Mélodie Daoust, Jayna Hefford (A), Haley Irwin, Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Johnston, Caroline Ouellette (C), Marie-Philip Poulin, Natalie Spooner, Jennifer Wakefield, Hayley Wickenheiser (A).