It took a shootout to determine a winner, but the Canadian women’s hockey team has won their 12th IIHF Four Nations tournament.
The win over the United States is the third in a row that resulted in a 3-2 score, and much like the overtime decision in Sochi, required extra minutes to determine a winner.
Jennifer Wakefield of Canada would notch the first of two goals in the contest in the first period, on the power play. Brianna Decker crashed the net hard throughout the game and found the back of the net in the second to tie it up. Momentum swung in favor of the United States when Hilary Knight put a puck behind Genevieve Lacasse on a breakaway to take the 2-1 lead.
Canada could not rally on a penalty shot from Jill Saulnier – who missed an open net, with goaltender Molly Shaus out of position – to tie the game. Instead, the game-tying goal would come in the form of an even strength goal for Wakefield, assisted by captain Natalie Spooner.
Canada had their chances to make it 3-2 in the third period, and almost did, but a goal was waved off due to a delayed penalty on the United States. Officials determined play should have stopped when Kacey Bellamy touched the puck right before the goal was scored. Canada could not capitalize on their power play following that determination.
The 20-minute, 4-on-4 overtime featured both teams killing one penalty each.
In the shootout, both goaltenders denied in the first round. Brianne Jenner beat Shaus in the second round, while Decker was denied by Lacasse. Neither Jamie Lee Rattray or Hilary Knight could find the back of the net in the third round, resulting in the win for Canada.
Lacasse, who was named Star of the Game, made 33 stops in regulation. Shaus made 26.
Both teams now look ahead to 2015 IIHF World Championships. The national organizations filled their Four Nations rosters with younger players, many of whom considered the tournament as a “tryout” for a spot on the national team in World Championships. For the U.S., it was also a tryout for Coach Ken Klee, who will be considered for the coaching job in 2015.
What we learned from the Four Nations tournament:
- It took a skills competition to decide a winner in the championship game – and while the bounce went Canada’s way, it could have been anyone’s game. And that’s good news for a rivalry that keeps drawing people into it and growing the game of women’s hockey. It fuels the fire for future contests.
- Canadian Goaltender and Providence College alum Genevieve Lacasse is good at hockey. She made a lot of key saves to keep her team in the game. She stopped 63 of 67 shots in the whole tournament and boasted a .940 SV% in the two games she played.
- U.S. Goaltender Molly Shaus is just as good, though. She stopped 42 of 44 shots in the tournament and had a .955 SV% with an .86 GAA.
- You don’t have to be big to be good at hockey. Kendall Coyne is 5’1″ and incredibly fast. She ended the tournament with one assist against Canada in the championships, but her stats do not reflect how important she is to the team. She hustled hard throughout the whole game.
- Younger players used Four Nations as an opportunity to prove themselves worthy of a spot in the World Championships. Non-Olympians Dani Cameranesi and Shiann Darkangelo came up huge this tournament. Cameranesi finished the tournament with two goals and two assists, with Darkangelo finished with one goal and three assists.
- We need to develop women’s hockey more in non-North American countries. This was discussed a lot around the Olympics time, but the tournament again proves it, because Sweden and Finland just can’t compete. North America out-scored Sweden and Finland a combined 13-1. Not a pretty picture.