Team USA opened their official Road to Pyeongchang in a big way on Sunday afternoon, thumping Team Canada 5-2 in front of a disappointed Québec City crowd to retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
Team USA, undefeated against Canada in 2017, took full advantage of both their special teams and the lack of rebound control from Canadian netminder Ann-Renée Desbiens to take control of the game early, striking first on a Hilary Knight rebound off a Megan Bozek post shot and in, swinging the momentum to Team USA after a Bailey Bram goal for Canada was disallowed for kicking just minutes earlier. Brianna Decker struck on another rebound seven minutes later, but Meghan Agosta was able to halve the lead 90 seconds later after outskating American goalie Maddie Rooney for a dribbling puck, tapping in the easy empty netter to put the score at 2-1.
Annie Pankowski needed only 11 seconds into the second period, however, to swing the pendulum back for the U.S., burying a feed from Alex Carpenter that just trickled past Desbiens and in on a 3-on-1 to set the lead at the same score. Carpenter would strike while shorthanded halfway through the frame, streaking in on Desbiens and burying a feed from Emily Pfalzer after a brutal Canadian giveaway at their blueline.
Decker would net her second on the power play at 16:22, ripping a one-timer from Kendall Coyne past a deflated Desbiens to take a 5-1 lead into the third. And despite being outshot 8-2 in the third, and giving up a backhander to Jillian Saulnier midway through the frame, Team USA was simply too much to overcome for the Canadians, falling in front of a silenced hometown crowd.
With the win, Team USA retains their 30th International Hockey Lineal Championship, which they won to open the 2017 World Championships against Canada this past March, and marks the sixth win of their current reign. This is the first of six exhibition games in the lead-up to Pyeongchang between these bitter rivals, the 135th IHLC meeting all-time, putting the record at 76-58-1 in favour of Canada, but with the Americans rapidly closing that gap. The series resumes in three days in Boston, with the IHLC on the line for the Americans now on home ice.
07:42 – PEN – Clark, slashing
09:05 – PP GOAL – Knight (Bozek, Decker)
11:38 – PEN – Duggan, tripping
16:00 – GOAL – Decker (M. Lamoureux, Duggan)
17:31 – GOAL – Agosta
20:11 – GOAL – Pankowski (Carpenter)
25:20 – PEN – Wakefield, tripping
28:38 – PEN – Bellamy, interference
30:16 – SH GOAL – Carpenter (Pfalzer)
36:14 – PEN – Ambrose, interference
36:22 – PP GOAL – Decker (Coyne, Bozek)
52:53 – GOAL – Saulnier (Jenner, Lacquette)
W: Rooney (23-25)
L: Desbiens (19-24)
SHOTS ON GOAL
14+8+2 = 24
10+7+8 = 25
Goaltenders: Alex Rigsby, Maddie Rooney. Defence: Kacey Bellamy (A), Megan Bozek, Kali Flanagan, Megan Keller, Monique Lamoureux (A), Gigi Marvin, Emily Pfalzer, Lee Stecklein. Forwards: Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Alex Carpenter, Kendall Coyne, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan (C), Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Annie Pankowski, Kelly Pannek, Amanda Pelkey.
Goaltenders: Ann-Renée Desbiens, Geneviève Lacasse. Defence: Erin Ambrose, Laura Fortino, Halli Krzyzaniak, Brigette Lacquette, Jocelyne Larocque, Meaghan Mikkelson, Lauriane Rougeau (A). Forwards: Meghan Agosta, Bailey Bram, Emily Clark, Mélodie Daoust, Brianne Jenner (A), Rebecca Johnston, Sarah Nurse, Sarah Potomak, Marie-Philip Poulin (C), Jillian Saulnier, Natalie Spooner, Blayre Turnbull, Jennifer Wakefield.