The U.S. women’s hockey team showed no signs of rust after their highly-publicized holdout against USA Hockey, opening the 2017 World Championships on home ice with a tight 2-0 victory over Canada to win the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
The game was a defensive duel throughout, pitting star Canadian netminder Shannon Szabados, returning after a hiatus from the national team, against Nicole Hensley, a newcomer to the Canada-U.S. rivalry, and a surprising start ahead of former starter Alex Rigsby. Both were sharp through the opening two periods, despite the U.S. outshooting Canada 21-8, and both sides managed just a single penalty during the first 40 minutes.
It seemed that the game would be scoreless leading into the third, until a harmless-looking wraparound from Brianna Decker found an unattended-to Megan Bozek at the side of Szabados, and a smooth cross-ice feed allowed for the easy poke-in to break the shutout, putting the U.S. ahead 1-0 at second intermission. The U.S. quickly doubled up on the score with a point shot from defender Gigi Marvin, converting an awful giveaway by Canada in their own zone, beating Szabados on a screen to go ahead 2-0. And despite holding the edge in shots this period (albeit a small one, 10-9), Canada was unable to solve Hensley, giving the U.S. the all-important opening victory.
With the win, Team USA captures their 30th International Hockey Lineal Championship, their first since the 2016 Four Nations Cup Gold Medal Game, and their first title win on home ice since 2012. This marked the 133rd IHLC showdown between Canada and the U.S., their first meeting since a 3-2 overtime exhibition loss in December, leaving the record now sitting at 76-56-1 in favour of Canada. The Americans will now face Russia and Finland to round out the Group Round, marking a likely path straight through to the Semifinals for the defending Gold Medal champions.
14:19 – PEN – Wakefield, roughing
37:54 – GOAL – Decker (Bozek)
42:37 – PEN – Ambrose, roughing
42:37 – PEN – Pelkey, cross checking
44:49 – GOAL – Marvin
W: Hensley (18-18)
L: Szabados (28-30)
SHOTS ON GOAL
12+9+9 = 30
5+3+10 = 18
Goaltenders: Nicole Hensley, Maddie Rooney. Defence: Kacey Bellamy (A), Megan Bozek, Kali Flanagan, Megan Keller, Monique Lamoureux (A), Emily Pfalzer, Lee Stecklein. Forwards: Hannah Brandt, Alex Carpenter, Kendall Coyne, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan (C), Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Gigi Marvin, Kelly Pannek, Amanda Pelkey, Haley Skarupa, Kelli Stack.
Goaltenders: Emerance Maschmeyer, Shannon Szabados. Defence: Erin Ambrose, Renata Fast, Laura Fortino, Halli Krzyzaniak, Jocelyne Larocque, Meaghan Mikkelson, Lauriane Rougeau. Forwards: Meghan Agosta, Bailey Bram, Emily Clark, Sarah Davis, Haley Irwin (A), Brianne Jenner (A), Rebecca Johnston, Sarah Potomak, Marie-Philip Poulin (C), Natalie Spooner, Laura Stacey, Blayre Turnbull, Jennifer Wakefield.