On the back of a 32-save performance from Geneviève Lacasse and a rock-solid penalty kill unit, Canada retained the International Hockey Lineal Championship on home ice, eking out a narrow 2-0 win in Winnipeg.
Similar to their meeting in Saint Paul two nights ago, the game started on more of a defensive edge than previous meetings between these two, with both Lacasse and Alex Rigsby for the U.S. refusing to give an inch. While both sides kept tempers low in the first period, with only one penalty each assessed, the second period turned up the penalty numbers, with the U.S. taking three penalties and Canada four, including a 1:41 5-on-3 power play for Team USA, which Lacasse turned away at every opportunity. The second period ended at 0-0, despite the U.S. outshooting Canada 25-15.
Lacasse and Rigsby continued deep into the third stopping every opportunity imaginable – breakaway, 2-on-1, lucky bounce, it did not matter; the game seemed destined for another overtime period. But with 3:10 remaining, a harmless looking play, a broken up play along the boards, led to the puck on the stick of Jillian Saulnier, struggling to cross the U.S. defence to get a clear shot on Rigsby. Once she got a backhand shot off through traffic, however, it managed to fool Rigsby five-hole, breaking the deadlock and putting Canada ahead 1-0. And despite the Americans’ efforts to tie, a late Laura Fortino empty netter capped the victory, sending Canada away with the 2-0 home win.
With the win, Canada retained the International Hockey Lineal Championship, their 34th and current title, which they won from Team USA in their last meeting, a 2-1 overtime win two nights ago in Minnesota. The win improves Canada to 78-60-1 all-time against their border rivals, and marks the fifth meeting between these teams over the IHLC in Winnipeg, and the first in a decade, the final of the 2007 World Championships marking their last meeting here. Canada and the U.S. will meet in ten days’ time on the third and final leg of their pre-Olympic tour, first in San Jose, followed by a meeting in Edmonton two days later, the winner of that game holding the honour of marching into PyeongChang with the IHLC.
01:38 – PEN – Fast, interference
04:26 – PEN – Pelkey, hooking
20:52 – PEN – team, too many players
25:24 – PEN – Duggan, body checking
28:19 – PEN – Mikkelson, interference
34:16 – PEN – Mikkelson, roughing
34:16 – PEN – Cameranesi, roughing
39:36 – PEN – Bram, roughing
39:55 – PEN – Poulin, roughing
46:46 – PEN – Clark, body checking
56:50 – GOAL – Saulnier
59:16 – EN GOAL – Fortino (Fast)
W: Lacasse (32-32)
L: Rigsby (20-21)
SHOTS ON GOAL
7+8+7 = 22
13+12+7 = 32
Goaltenders: Ann-Renée Desbiens, Geneviève Lacasse. Defence: Renata Fast, Laura Fortino, Halli Krzyzaniak, Brigette Lacquette, Jocelyne Larocque (A), Meaghan Mikkelson. Forwards: Meghan Agosta, Bailey Bram, Emily Clark, Haley Irwin, Brianne Jenner (A), Rebecca Johnston, Sarah Nurse, Marie-Philip Poulin (C), Jillian Saulnier, Natalie Spooner, Laura Stacey, Jennifer Wakefield.
Goaltenders: Nicole Hensley, Alex Rigsby. Defence: Cayla Barnes, Kacey Bellamy (A), Megan Bozek, Kali Flanagan, Megan Keller, Sidney Morin, Emily Pfalzer, Lee Stecklein. Forwards: Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Alex Carpenter, Kendall Coyne, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan (C), Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Monique Lamoureux, Annie Pankowski, Amanda Pelkey.