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Takeaways from the USA vs Canada U18 and U22 series

Canada’s U18s and USA’s U22s won their respective three-game series

NHL: JUN 27 Columbus Blue Jackets Development Camp Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This past week, Team USA and Team Canada’s U18 and U22 teams played their annual three-game series. While Team Canada’s U18s won two of three, Team USA’s U22s did the same in the next age bracket. In both series, Team Canada bounced back to win the final game, proving just how tight the competition is between these two hockey superpowers, even at a developmental level. Here are some takeaways from the tournament.

All statistics taken from the U22 and U18 series pages.

Under-18 Series

Team Canada won two of three games against Team USA, bookending the series with victories.

Game 1: Canada 5–USA 4

The highest-scoring game in either series with nine total goals, this was a barnburner from start to finish. Both teams had a player with a pair of goals: Aly McLeod (St. Lawrence University commit) for Team Canada and Danielle Burgen (Minnesota State University commit) for Team USA. There were three total powerplay goals in the game, two of which came from Team USA, whose powerplay duo of Burgen and Kathryn Davis (Harvard commit) clicked immediately.

Overall, the goalie performances on both sides were forgettable, with neither Skylar Vetter (USA) nor Kayle Osborne (CAN) reaching an .850 SV%. Burgen had the most shots on goal with five, and McLeod and Davis followed with four each.

Game 2: USA 3–Canada 2 (OT)

A 3–2 OT scoreline in a USA–Canada game? You don’t say.

This was a huge game for Team USA’s Abbey Murphy (Minnesota commit), who scored both the tying goal and the overtime winner. Murphy’s overtime winner came on the power play, as Team Canada alternate captain Nicole Gosling (Clarkson University commit) was assessed a 10-minute misconduct and a two-minute minor for head contact. Team Canada’s strongest performance came from goaltender Jessie McPherson (University of Vermont commit), who posted a .914 SV% and faced 35 shots.

Murphy led all skaters with seven shots on goal. Canada’s Maddi Wheeler (Wisconsin commit) had five shots, and Team USA’s Davis once again had four, this time joined by teammate Kiara Zanon (Penn State commit). Team Canada had eight penalties assessed to them, while Team USA had only two.

Game 3: Canada 2–USA 0

Team Canada clearly learned from a disappointing Game 2 and came out firing. Penalty minutes were even for both teams for the first time all series, and Team Canada’s penalty kill was aggressive. So aggressive, in fact, that their second goal was a shorthanded goal scored by Marianne Picard (Wisconsin commit), midway through the second period.

Although Team USA held Team Canada to a scoreless first period, they were unable to solve Canada’s goaltender, Ève Gascon. Her impressive performance isn’t exactly surprising, given that she’s the first female player in the history of the Quebec Midget AAA League. Team USA’s Makenna Webster had five shots, but Team USA did themselves no favors, taking three penalties in the final frame—the last of which was a bench minor for having too many players on the ice.

Overall

Team Canada has a pair of impressive young goaltenders in McPherson and Gascon, who are both only 16 years old. Team USA’s Burgen led all Under-18 skaters with four points (3G, 1A).

Two players from Team Canada had three points (Anne Cherkowski and McLeod), and two Team USA players joined them (Murphy and Davis). Murphy (USA) and McLeod (CAN) each had ten shots on goal, while Davis (USA) was close behind with nine.

Under-22 Series

Team USA won the U-22 series with two wins but was unable to secure the sweep, dropping the third game to Team Canada.

Game 1: USA 4–Canada 3 (OT)

Yet another in a long list of games between Team USA and Team Canada to go to overtime. Like the OT game in the U-18 series, the game-winner came on the powerplay for Team USA. The gamewinner was scored by incoming Boston College freshman Hannah Bilka, assisted by two players with plenty of experience on the senior team (Cayla Barnes of Boston College and Sydney Brodt of UMD).

Team USA goaltender Emma Polusny had a .903 SV% on 31 shots, and — given that Team Canada outshot Team USA — her performance was key in their eventual win. Team Canada alternate captain Kristin O’Neill (Cornell) and Team USA’s Barnes led skaters with five shots on goal, while Team Canada’s Emma Maltais (Ohio State) had four.

Game 2: USA 4–Canada 2

Team USA didn’t let a tied game in the third period escalate to overtime for a second game—instead they finished strong with three goals in the final frame to take the second game and clinch the series win. Once again, the game winner came off the stick of Bilka. This was a big game for Team USA’s Taylor Heise (Minnesota), who assisted on the game winner and the fourth goal and led all skaters with five shots on goal.

Although Team Canada took twice as many penalties as Team USA, their penalty kill was solid, and neither team conceded a power play goal. Team USA outshot Team Canada 26–22, and Sarah Fillier (Princeton) led all Canadian skaters with four shots on goal.

Game 3: Canada 2–USA 1

Team Canada avoided the sweep with a hard-fought win to wrap up the series. This was a monster game for Canada’s Fillier, who scored both goals. Her goals were both scored in the first period in the span of two minutes and Maltais assisted on both. Fillier finished the game with seven shots on goal, leading all skaters.

Although Team USA outshot Team Canada 28–20 and their penalty kill went unbeaten, Team Canada goaltender Kendra Woodland (University of New Brunswick) was unstoppable, posting a ridiculous .964 SV%, the best performance of the series by any goaltender. Emily Brown (Minnesota) scored Team USA’s only goal and, along with Maureen Murphy (Providence), led Team USA skaters with five shots.

Overall

Team Canada may have found a real gem in Woodland. Though she’s only one year into her USports career, her statistics from that season, combined with her outstanding performance in Game 3 of the series, suggest she might have a legitimate shot at making her way into the senior team’s pool after this Olympic cycle.

Canada’s Fillier led all skaters with 12 shots on goal, and her Game 3 performance tells us she’s not just an NCAA superstar.

Team USA’s Heise led all skaters with four points, and tied with Team Canada’s Maltais in assists (three). Bilka and Fillier each had three points. Bilka was incredibly clutch for Team USA with two straight game winners and three total points. The two teams were incredibly tight, but Team USA managed to edge out a series win with two more total goals and a better overall goaltending performance (a collective .904 SV%).

Fun (?) fact: somehow, Team Canada did not score a single second-period goal throughout the entire U22 series.