Playing at the World Championships for the first time since a major upset in Canada’s capital two years earlier, and a year removed from a Canadian upset at the Sochi Olympics, Team USA kicked off the tournament in Malmö with a dominating 4-2 opening game victory to capture the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
Taking advantage of an early 5-on-3 that had Canadian captain (and U.S. defensive kryptonite) Marie-Philip Poulin in the box, Jocelyne Lamoureux roofed a wide-angle wrister over Canadian keeper Geneviève Lacasse for the early 1-0 lead. Canada would tie after Natalie Spooner sprung Brianne Jenner for a breakaway backhand goal three minutes later, but penalties would again put Canada behind. First, a Caroline Ouellette holding call gave Kacey Bellamy the chance to rip a point-shot blast past Lacasse for the 2-1 lead, and another holding call to Jocelyne Larocque seven minutes later gave Kendall Coyne the chance to tip in a Bellamy cross-bar deflection for the 3-1 lead.
It was Spooner again, however, shifting the momentum, this time springing Jennifer Wakefield on a break, splitting two American defensemen and beating Jessie Vetter backhand to cut the deficit to 3-2. However, the scoresheet did not come close to matching the on-ice performance, as the U.S. outshot and out-skated the Canadians throughout the game, capitalizing on the power play and shutting down their own penalties quickly. A Hilary Knight tip on a beautiful Kendall Coyne drop pass early in the third would prove as the insurance goal, as Canada never was able to pull back, resulting in the 4-2 final, with the Americans outshooting Canada 34-11 on the day, including 10-2 in the third period.
With the win, the United States wins their 28th International Hockey Lineal Championship and first since December 2013, in the first of four consecutive exhibition wins in the lead-up to Sochi, where the U.S. held the IHLC until a 3-2 Preliminary Round loss, followed by their Gold Medal Game collapse. This marked the 123rd meeting between these bitter rivals over the IHLC, the last being Canada’s 3-2 shootout win at the Four Nations Cup in November. However, the U.S. should not necessarily consider themselves at an advantage, as the winner of the last three (2009, 2012 and 2013) opening round Canada-USA tilts at the Worlds have gone on to then lose the Gold Medal Game, which could mean Canada’s 11th title is close at hand. The U.S. faces Finland next tomorrow with the IHLC on the line in group play.
03:24 – PEN – Poulin, body checking
03:29 – PEN – Krzyzaniak, delay of game
04:04 – PP2 GOAL – J. Lamoureux (Picard, M. Lamoureux)
07:23 – GOAL – Jenner (Spooner, Wakefield)
07:35 – PEN – Knight, hooking
10:18 – PEN – Ouellette, holding
11:45 – PP GOAL – Bellamy
17:00 – PEN – Larocque, holding
18:29 – PP GOAL – Coyne (Bellamy, Schleper)
20:57 – GOAL – Wakefield (Spooner, Jenner)
28:30 – PEN – J. Lamoureux, slashing
35:03 – PEN – Brandt, delay of game
40:00 – PEN – Spooner, hooking
46:29 – GOAL – Knight (Coyne, Decker)
49:21 – PEN – Knight, elbowing
53:48 – PEN – Spooner, hooking
W: Vetter (9-11)
L: Lacasse (30-34)
SHOTS ON GOAL
15+9+10 = 34
4+5+2 = 11
Goaltenders: Alex Rigsby, Jessie Vetter. Defence: Kacey Bellamy, Monique Lamoureux, Emily Pfalzer, Michelle Picard, Anne Schleper, Lee Stecklein. Forwards: Stephanie Anderson, Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Alex Carpenter (A), Kendall Coyne, Brianna Decker (A), Meghan Duggan (C), Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Annie Pankowski, Haley Skarupa, Dana Trivigno.
Goaltenders: Ann-Renée Desbiens, Geneviève Lacasse. Defence: Courtney Birchard, Laura Fortino, Halli Krzyzaniak, Brigette Lacquette, Jocelyne Larocque, Lauriane Rougeau (A), Tara Watchorn. Forwards: Bailey Bram, Jessica Campbell, Emily Clark, Sarah Davis, Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Johnston (A), Caroline Ouellette, Marie-Philip Poulin (C), Jamie Lee Rattray, Jillian Saulnier, Natalie Spooner, Kelly Terry, Jennifer Wakefield.