The United States Women’s hockey team will face rival Canada tonight at 10 p.m. ET in the gold medal game at the IIHF Four Nations Tournament.
The U.S. Women blanked Sweden yesterday, 3-0, with goals from power forward Hilary Knight, Emily Pfalzer (power play), and Brianna Decker (short-handed). Brianne McLaughlin-Bittle stopped 11 shots in the victory. She and Molly Shaus have now both recorded shutouts at the tournament.
“You’re always looking for the U.S./Canada rivalry and hopefully you get it, but no matter who we play, we are in it for the gold medal and will hopefully bring it back to the U.S.,” said Knight. “Our goal is to play a full, solid 60 minutes of hockey and we didn’t play that the other night. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play again.”
Coach Ken Klee said he is confident his squad is ready for Canada.
“Anytime you get a chance for the U.S./Candaa game, it’s fun, so it’ll be a good atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a hockey game and when there’s energy in the building you feel it.”
The team does have some unfinished business against Canada to take care of, though, he said.
“We played 55 great minutes last time, and that’s hockey, sometimes things like that happen and we have obviously moved on past it and learned from those things and we keep going,” he said.
In Canada’s final preliminary game, they cruised past the Fins, 3-1. Goals came from Jennifer Wakefield, Haley Irwin and Rebecca Johnson. Emerance Maschmeyer stopped 11 of 12 shots in the contest. Riikka Valila netted the only goal for Finland.
The set-up between the U.S. and Canada is certainly an expected one. Here is what it will take for the U.S. to come out with a win:
- Concentration on special teams. In their first game against Canada, the U.S. scored a power play goal but gave up two, and gave up two in one period despite out-shooting them in that period. They’ve proved they can be successful on the power play, and even successful short-handed. Special teams really need to be, well, special.
- Goaltending. Now that Shaus and McLaughlin-Bittle have both posted shutouts against Finland and Sweden respectively, who will get the starting nod against Canada? Either would be a good choice tonight and would give the U.S. a great chance at winning.
- Give a 60 minute effort. It was the difference in the first match-up, and it will be the difference in this one. Canada’s starting goaltender, Genevieve Lacasse, is really good. She has only played one game in the tournament (and it was against the U.S.) but has a .938 SV%. That means the U.S. needs to find a way to keep getting pucks to the net, and never sit back on a lead, which unfortunately they have a habit of doing against Canada. In their last match-up, the U.S. outshot Canada 32-31. As an unrelated side-note, the U.S. out-shot Finland 40-14 and out-shot Sweden 50-11. As if we needed more evidence that these two teams just can’t compete with the North American hockey powerhouses.
Watch the game tonight live on FastHockey.com at 7 p.m. local time, 10 p.m. Eastern Time.