Canada needed just 37 seconds to capture an overtime win from Team USA in front of a packed Minnesota crowd on a hostile Sunday afternoon, wrenching away the International Hockey Lineal Championship with a 2-1 victory as the days inch closer to the PyeongChang Olympics.
A relatively quiet first period was highlighted by the sharp play of Canada’s defence and goaltender, Shannon Szabados, returning after a long national team absence, who held off the Americans despite being outshot 10-4 in the period and taking the period’s only penalties. It was the third, however, that rolled into the second period to give Team USA their first goal, a Megan Keller marker that deflected off Alex Carpenter in front of Szabados, through traffic, to put the Americans ahead.
Team Canada’s captain and perennial American-crusher Marie-Philip Poulin, however, would provide the equalizer with time winding down in the second, springing Meghan Agosta on a breakaway with a beautiful drop pass, where she was stonewalled by U.S. keeper Maddie Rooney. The speedy Poulin, however, pounced in unnoticed by the American defence, tapping in the loose rebound to even the score at 1-1. Rooney would be left to turn on the heroics in the third, helping kill three U.S. penalties while being outshot 12-5, forcing the game to overtime.
The crowd at the Xcel Energy Center, however, barely had enough time to return to their seats from intermission before this was over, as Canada, managing to generate an early 2-on-1 with Brianne Jenner and Rebecca Johnston, did not squander their early opportunity, as Johnston fed Jenner the game winner, as she ripped a wrister high blocker side past Rooney, to where Rick Jeanneret affectionately says “where momma hides the cookies!,” giving Canada the overtime victory in front of a stunned crowd in the State of Hockey.
With the victory, Canada captures their record 34th International Hockey Lineal Championship, their first since the opening of last month’s Four Nations Cup. The meeting is the 139th between these classic women’s rivals, and the first since the final of the aforementioned Four Nations Cup, improving Canada’s record all-time to 77-60-1; this marked the fourth-ever meeting in Saint Paul, improving Canada to 3-1 there all-time in their fist showdown since 2013, and marked their first overtime game since the Gold Medal Game at this year’s World Championships. These two return north of the border to meet again in Winnipeg in 48 hours’ time, with IHLC glory on the line.
05:07 – PEN – Clark, tripping
07:58 – PEN – Poulin, hooking
19:54 – PEN – Irwin, hooking
21:20 – PP GOAL – Keller (Carpenter)
21:20 – PEN – Hart, hooking
23:37 – PEN – Duggan, holding
34:31 – PEN – Skarupa, slashing
37:52 – GOAL – Poulin (Agosta)
39:27 – PEN – Larocque, roughing
47:12 – PEN – Flanagan, slashing
51:47 – PEN – Bellamy, holding
56:16 – PEN – Marvin, holding
60:37 – GOAL – Jenner (Johnston, Larocque)
W: Szabados (27-28)
L: Rooney (24-26)
SHOTS ON GOAL
4+9+12+1 = 26
10+13+5+0 = 28
Goaltenders: Ann-Renée Desbiens, Shannon Szabados. Defence: Renata Fast, Laura Fortino, Micah Hart, Jocelyne Larocque (A), Meaghan Mikkelson, Lauriane Rougeau. Forwards: Meghan Agosta, Emily Clark, Haley Irwin, Brianne Jenner (A), Rebecca Johnston, Sarah Nurse, Sarah Potomak, Marie-Philip Poulin (C), Jillian Saulnier, Natalie Spooner, Blayre Turnbull, Jennifer Wakefield.
Goaltenders: Alex Rigsby, Maddie Rooney. Defence: Cayla Barnes, Kacey Bellamy (A), Kali Flanagan, Megan Keller, Monique Lamoureux, Sidney Morin, Emily Pfalzer, Lee Stecklein. Forwards: Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Alex Carpenter, Kendall Coyne, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan (C), Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Gigi Marvin, Kelly Pannek, Amanda Pelkey, Haley Skarupa.