Canada completed their sweep of the United States on home ice in their pre-Olympic exhibition series, scoring three unanswered goals in the final 30 minutes to take a 3-1 victory in San Jose to retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
The game opened with a far slower pace than usual for these two, and whether it was extensive travel or the California time change, each side made things easy in the first for goalies Ann-Renée Desbiens and Alex Rigsby, turning away 7 and 11 shots, respectively.
A defensive lapse in the second led to the opening goal, when on a power play, the Canadian defence fell asleep in front of Desbiens, allowing Hilary Knight to easily slide a cross-ice pass over the goal mouth on to the stick of a wide open Brianna Decker, tapping in the easy tally for the 1-0 lead. Ten minutes later, however, the American defence seemed to fall asleep as well, allowing Haley Irwin to walk in past three defenders uninterrupted, allowing her to slide in a backhand past Rigsby five-hole to tie things at 1-1.
A controversial goal from Sarah Nurse put Canada up 2-1 with 1:45 left in the frame, when an Emily Clark attempt sent the puck airborne, landing in a busy crowd in front of Rigsby, where the puck ended up deflecting off of Nurse’s foot and in; after a lengthy video review, it was determined the puck both crossed the line and was not kicked in by Nurse, putting Canada ahead 2-1 after two.
Marie-Philip Poulin would land the final blow for Canada 55 seconds into the third, where a deflected Meghan Agosta pass from behind the net deflected off Amanda Pelkey’s stick, landing right on the stick of a wide-open Poulin, left alone to rifle a wrister top corner over Rigsby for the 3-1 lead. The Americans, despite having a 6-on-4 advantage with a power play and Rigsby pulled in the final 61 seconds of the game, were unable to solve the now-sharper defence or Desbiens, as Canada did not falter, resulting in the 3-1 final.
With the win, Canada retains the International Hockey Lineal Championship, their 34th title, their third straight win over Team USA, and their 141st IHLC tilt in history, improving Canada’s all-time record against the Americans to 80-60-1. This marks the fifth meeting in San Jose between these two, which the U.S. leads 3-2, and is their first meeting since a 2001 exhibition game. Their exhibition series ends in two days’ time in Edmonton, with the winner taking the title to PyeongChang for the 2018 Olympics.
03:16 – PEN – Nurse, hooking
19:43 – PEN – Bellamy, body checking
21:50 – PEN – Wakefield, tripping
22:05 – PP GOAL – Decker (Knight, Coyne)
32:57 – GOAL – Irwin (Krzyzaniak, Potomak)
35:21 – PEN – team, too many players
38:15 – GOAL – Nurse (Clark)
38:40 – PEN – Larocque, roughing
40:55 – GOAL – Poulin (Agosta, Daoust)
53:44 – PEN – Bellamy, body checking
58:59 – PEN – Poulin, delay of game
W: Desbiens (25-26)
L: Rigsby (33-36)
SHOTS ON GOAL
11+18+7 = 36
7+10+9 = 26
Goaltenders: Ann-Renée Desbiens, Geneviève Lacasse. Defence: Laura Fortino, Micah Hart, Halli Krzyzaniak, Brigette Lacquette, Jocelyne Larocque, Lauriane Rougeau. Forwards: Meghan Agosta (A), Bailey Bram, Emily Clark, Mélodie Daoust, Haley Irwin, Brianne Jenner (A), Rebecca Johnston, Sarah Nurse, Sarah Potomak, Marie-Philip Poulin (C), 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, Gigi Marvin, Kelly Pannek, Amanda Pelkey, Haley Skarupa.