History appears to be repeating itself in Kamloops – and if it is, Canada had better be worried. In the opening game of the tournament on home ice for the Canucks, the Americans continued their torrid win streak with a 3-1 comeback win, retaining the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
Unlike the opening game of the 2015 Worlds in Sweden, which featured a flurry of goals early and often from the Americans, both sides played careful, calculated hockey in the opening two periods. Alex Rigsby and Emerance Maschmeyer were both sharp in their approach, particularly Maschmeyer, who helped kill off five consecutive Canadian penalties as Canada was outshot 24-13 (and frankly outplayed) through the first two frames.
However, it was the first American penalty that broke the game open, as a late Megan Keller penalty to end the second gave Canada a man advantage heading into the third, and they needed just 14 seconds after puck drop to convert. Following a scramble in front of the net, a loose rebound dribbled out towards the point, and the opportunistic Laura Fortino ripped a wrister from the slot that went through the crowd and past Rigsby for the opening tally.
And for the next ten minutes, it seemed as if Maschmeyer, the unlikely starter over veteran Charline Labonté, would not be beaten. But if anybody were to do the job, it would be U.S. sniper Hilary Knight, who eventually broke the stalemate on her furious pace just shy of the halfway mark. Erroneously left alone in on goal, she rifled a shot that went off Maschmeyer’s glove and in to tie things up. Just like that, all of a sudden, the momentum had shifted, and would stay that way.
It was further penalty trouble that spelled the death knell for Canada, as their only penalty of the third, a Meghan Mikkelson high sticking call, led to the Americans’ first power play tally in six tries, a juicy rebound that Brianna Decker lifted past Maschmeyer for the first U.S. lead, with just 6:05 to go. While Canada tried furiously to tie, and captain Marie-Philip Poulin hitting the crossbar on an awful U.S. turnover right in front of Rigsby, they could not equalize, and Knight buried an empty netter for her second and the 3-1 goal.
With the victory, Team USA retains the International Hockey Lineal Championship, their 28th, which they won from Canada in the opening game of last year’s Worlds in Malmö, and have since run through ten straight victories, picking up World Championship and Four Nations Gold along the way. This marked the 127th IHLC meeting between these rivals, who are a near-lock to meet for Game #128 a week from now for the Gold Medal; Canada leads the all-time series 73-53-1. Until then, the Americans will carry the IHLC to their next Group A game against Finland tomorrow.
04:50 – PEN – Clark, slashing
05:46 – PEN – Fortino, slashing
20:00 – PEN – Saulnier, body checking
21:46 – PEN – Agosta, holding
37:12 – PEN – Krzyzaniak, cross checking
39:04 – PEN – Keller, holding
40:14 – PP GOAL – Fortino (Spooner, Poulin)
47:44 – PEN – Keller, tripping
49:58 – GOAL – Knight (M. Lamoureux)
50:52 – PEN – J. Lamoureux, kneeing
52:09 – PEN – Mikkelson, high sticking
53:55 – PP GOAL – Decker (M. Lamoureux)
59:40 – EN GOAL – Knight (Decker)
W: Rigsby (22-23)
L: Maschmeyer (35-37)
SHOTS ON GOAL
12+12+14 = 38
6+7+10 = 23
Goaltenders: Alex Rigsby, Jessie Vetter. Defence: Megan Bozek, Megan Keller, Monique Lamoureux (A), Emily Pfalzer, Michelle Picard, Lee Stecklein. Forwards: Alex Carpenter, Kendall Coyne, Shiann Darkangelo, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan (C), Zoe Hickel, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Annie Pankowski, Amanda Pelkey, Haley Skarupa, Kelli Stack, Dana Trivigno.
Goaltenders: Charline Labonté, Emerance Maschmeyer. Defence: Laura Fortino, Halli Krzyzaniak, Brigette Lacquette, Jocelyne Larocque, Meaghan Mikkelson (A), Lauriane Rougeau. Forwards: Meghan Agosta (A), Bailey Bram, Emily Clark, Sarah Davis, Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Johnston, Marie-Philip Poulin (C), Jillian Saulnier, Natalie Spooner, Blayre Turnbull, Jennifer Wakefield, Hayley Wickenheiser.