The Rivalry Series opened on Saturday night in Hartford, Conn. The five game series is split between December and February, with the teams facing off once more before Christmas in New Brunswick on December 17th.
Team USA took the first Rivalry Series game by a score of 4-1. The full game highlights are available on USA Hockey’s Youtube channel.
Linemates Alex Carpenter, Amanda Kessel and Kelly Pannek led the night with two points apiece. Newcomer Abby Roque recorded five shots on net, matched only by Megan Bozek and Team Canada’s Emily Clark. Team USA goaltender Alex Cavallini recorded a .969 SV% on 31 shots and Team USA converted on 2 of the 6 power plays they were awarded. Here’s how the goals played out:
CANADA 1-0 USA
The PK for Team USA completely lost sight of Emily Clark in their crease. Ultimately she didn’t touch the puck, but the goal happens at least partially because she’s able to get in and screen Cavallini. Bach’s shot is good, but she’s far enough out that Cavallini might have gotten her glove on it, if she had been able to see it. Unfortunately for her, hockey players make better doors than windows.
CANADA 1-1 USA
The tricky thing about Megan Keller is that when she jumps into the rush, in spite of her size, she still manages to surprise the opposing team. Here, Spooner appears to lose sight of her for just long enough that Keller can proceed unimpeded to the net.
By the time Spooner realizes it, Keller’s too far past her for her to make a play without risking a penalty.
CANADA 1-2 USA
The problem with being down to three players is that it’s physically impossible to defend. You have to make a choice, and in the first frame Rougeau had chosen to face the puck, though it’s clear from her body language that she’s aware of Carpenter standing behind the goal line.
Perhaps the defining moment of this play is in the second frame, where Keller received the puck. Anyone who’s ever seen her play would have expected her to take a shot there, and Rougeau clearly did, too, but Keller flips the script and passes to wide-open Carpenter, who drops it to Pannek in the slot.
In the third frame, both Lacasse and Poulin are focused on Pannek, leaving Kessel wide open back-door for the easy tap-in.
CANADA 1-3 USA
Not a lot to be done about this one. Stecklein’s shot hit a body somewhere, the bounce fell to Roque, who had a few options. Most 22-year-olds in their first ever game with the senior national team probably would not elect to take a shot on the backhand here, but Roque has 153 points in 139 NCAA games for a reason. Lacasse did a good job covering the near post and most shots would not have been successful here, but Roque was able to both elevate the puck on her backhand enough that she hit the top of the net completely clear of Lacasse. I’m not sure how many other ways I can say it: this was a very, very good goal.
CANADA 1-4 USA
The Kessel-Pannek-Carpenter line was not messing around. Barnes gets the puck to the net and it deflects and falls to Pannek.
Sure, she could take a shot here. It looks like she has a wide open net. But by the time she gets the puck on her stick, Zandee-Hart will already be there, and Lacasse will be at least halfway over. If she tries to pass it on her forehand, it probably gets intercepted. So she uses her body to protect the puck, banks it off of Zandee-Hart’s skate behind her own back, and the puck makes its way across the slot to wide-open Alex Carpenter on the other post.
All stats provided by Hockey Canada and USA Hockey, compiled by Mike Murphy.