Close calls, overtime penalties, disallowed goals, penalty shots, and of course, a shootout – as if this rivalry would have offered any less.
In the seventeenth meeting of Canada and the United States for Four Nations Cup Gold, it was Canada, on home ice, that reigned victorious in a 3-2 shootout win to capture their 14th gold medal, and complete their perfect tournament sweep to keep the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
The game started with an early scramble that nearly led to a U.S. goal, and intensity carried through the period, leading to a number of penalties on both sides. But it was not until a Megan Keller hooking call towards the end of the first that the scoreboard lit upm when Jennifer Wakefield tipped a point shot blast over U.S. goalie Molly Schaus for the 1-0 lead heading into intermission. But the Americans would need just 50 seconds into the second to respond, when Brianna Decker beat Geneviève Lacasse with a low wrister to tie the game at 1-1.
The Americans would shift the lead back their way just over eight minutes later, when U.S. veteran Hilary Knight was sprung on a rare breakaway, beating Lacasse on her backhand to put Team USA ahead 2-1. The physical play intensified, leading to a rare occurrence in the Canada-USA rivalry: a penalty shot. With Canada already shorthanded on a Jenelle Kohanchuk cross checking penalty, Jillian Saulnier sped up ice following a brutal Monique Lamoureux giveaway, but was hauled down by Lamoureux on the breakaway for the penalty shot – however, on her attempt, Saulnier had Schaus clearly beat, but lost control of the puck moving to her backhand, unable to put the tying goal in. However, nearly two minutes later, it was Wakefield again that brought Canada back into the game, with a spinning wrister rifling over Schaus to tie things at 2-2.
The third was marred with controversy, when a late Natalie Spooner goal, scored with an extra attacker on a delayed penalty call against Lamoureux, was called back when the puck grazed an American defender in the crease, just before Spooner pounced on a rebound for the goal, thus negating the goal, which Canada was unable to regain on the ensuing power play. Overtime too had its share of close calls, with Canada granted two power plays and the Americans one, each unable to convert. Not for lack of trying though, especially for U.S. captain Alex Carpenter, who both struck the post and was stoned by Lacasse on a breakway to send the game to the shootout.
Carpenter was unable to solve Lacasse as the first shooter for Team USA in the shootout, as was Wakefield, unable to conver the metaphorical hat trick. It was Canada’s second shooter, Brianne Jenner, that deked the pants off Schaus and landed a beautiful backhand to go ahead 1-0, with Decker unable to score on the second attempt. Schaus bought the Americans a third shooter by stoning Jamie Lee Rattray, but it was Knight, given another breakaway chance on Lacasse, who ripped a wrister straight into the glove of Lacasse, sealing the victory for Canada and sending the capacity Kamloops crowd into a frenzy.
With the win, Canada completes its 4-0 sweep of the Four Nations Cup to retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship, which they won in the Olympic Preliminary Round in Sochi, defended in the now-classic Gold Medal Game, and retained in Kamloops against Sweden, Team USA and Finland en route to this Gold Medal Game. This was the 122nd IHLC meeting between Team Canada and Team USA, the first since Canada’s 3-2 come from behind win in the Preliminary Round – in fact, the last six games between these two have ended in a 3-2 score, dating back to a December exhibition game. Additionally, Canada was able to break the five-year curse of the preliminary matchup winner going on to lose the Gold Medal Game at the Four Nations Cup. Canada will now march into Malmö, Sweden with the IHLC for the 2015 World Championships, where they open the tournament against, you guessed it, the United States.
00:56 – PEN – Carpenter, holding
02:36 – PEN – Birchard, holding
05:56 – PEN – Birchard, interference
15:34 – PEN – Keller, hooking
15:46 – PP GOAL – Wakefield (Fortino, Watchorn)
20:50 – GOAL – Decker (Coyne)
29:08 – GOAL – Knight
34:02 – PEN – Kohanchuk, cross checking
35:50 – SH PEN SHOT – Saulnier missed
37:49 – GOAL – Wakefield (Spooner, Birchard)
40:44 – PEN – team, too many players
45:35 – PEN – Larocque, interference
49:07 – PEN – Lamoureux, hooking
59:34 – PEN – Bozek, hooking
65:15 – PEN – Watchorn, tripping
79:25 – PEN – Stecklein, tripping
W: Lacasse (33-35)
L: Schaus (26-29)
SHOTS ON GOAL
4+11+8+5+1 = 29
8+8+9+10+0 = 35
Goaltenders: Geneviève Lacasse, Emerance Maschmeyer. Defence: Courtney Birchard, Laura Fortino, Halli Krzyzaniak, Jocelyne Larocque, Lauriane Rougeau (A), Tara Watchorn. Forwards: Bailey Bram, Emily Clark, Haley Irwin (C), Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Johnston (A), Jenelle Kohanchuk, Jamie Lee Rattray, Jillian Saulnier, Natalie Spooner (A), Kelly Terry, Blayre Turnbull, Jennifer Wakefield.
Goaltenders: Alex Rigsby, Molly Schaus. Defence: Kacey Bellamy (A), Megan Bozek, Megan Keller, Monique Lamoureux, Emily Pfalzer, Michelle Picard, Lee Stecklein. Forwards: Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Alex Carpenter (C), Kendall Coyne, Shiann Darkangelo, Brianna Decker (A), Hilary Knight, Annie Pankowski, Amanda Pelkey, Paige Savage, Haley Skarupa, Dana Trivigno.