Wednesday night marked the first re-match between the Canadian and United States women’s hockey teams since the heartbreaking overtime decision in Sochi, the game’s familiar 3-2 final score leaving a sour taste in the U.S. women’s mouths.
The night’s contest was all too similar to that gold medal game for the U.S. National team, many of whom were on the 2014 Olympic team less than nine months ago.
The U.S. held a 2-1 lead until late in the game with goals from Dani Cameranesi and Shiann Darkangelo. The tables turned when the U.S. had to call on special teams, and they could not kill their penalties.
Canada’s Haley Irwin found the back of the net with 4:57 left in the third period, on the power play, to tie the game at two-all. It was the game-changer Canada needed, mirroring Marie Phillip Poulin‘s game-tying goal with 55 seconds left in regulation in the 2014 gold medal game in Sochi.
Rebecca Johnson would put a puck behind U.S. goaltender Alex Rigsby on the power play, just one minute and 27 seconds later, to take the 3-2 lead for Canada. It would be the game-winner, despite the U.S. going on the power play with one minute left in the third period. Brianna Decker nearly tied the game on that power play, but her shot hit the post, leaving the U.S. unable to convert.
U.S. defenseman Monique Lamoureux said the notion of the big re-match wasn’t so much on their minds during the game, despite the similar unfortunate bounces.
“The positive we can take is that the mistakes were made are all fixable,” she said. “Simple things, getting pucks out, making the first play. I know I made my fair share of mistakes. Blocking shots, picking up sticks, it’s things everyone can do. It’s not out of our skill realm. We definitely had our chances, especially at the end there, and we hoped a few calls would go our way… I thought we finished well, we definitely had chances to tie it up.”
Cameranesi, whose goal was her first as a part of the U.S. National Team, said she would have liked to see more of a 60-minute effort.
“I thought it was a pretty awesome game to be a part of,” she said. “I think we sat back on our heels a little bit but it’s always going to be a competitive game with Canada. We’ll get back into practice and hopefully the next game, we’ll come out with a win. It’s a goal for us to apply relentless pressure through the entire time so we got chances off that, but I think we need to put more into the opportunities that we get.”
Head Coach Ken Klee expected an exciting game, and despite the U.S. shortfall, said he was happy overall with the effort.
“We just need to manage the puck a little better, be a little smarter. We played a great game. When you out-shoot 16-5 in a period usually you don’t give up two and don’t get any, but we competed hard, and it was a good game,” he said.
The U.S. will face Sweden Thursday at 4 p.m. Eastern. It is the final game in preliminary play in the tournament. The third place game and championship game will take place Saturday.