ANAHEIM, California - USA Hockey took the final game of the 2020 Rivalry Series against Hockey Canada thanks to a thrilling 4-3 overtime win. A U.S. women’s hockey record crowd of 13,320 fans filled the Honda Center to see the latest chapter in the border battle.
”Yeah, it’s an excellent feeling,” Kendall Coyne Schofield explained to The Ice Garden, post-game. “The crowd out here was amazing. Together we’re breaking barriers, we’re setting records. I think it was worth the price of admission tonight. It was an excellent hockey game. It’s always nice to come out on top.”
The U.S. picked up where they left off thanks to a Hilary Knight first period goal. Dani Cameranesi scored for the second consecutive game, Monique Lamoureux-Morando sent the game to overtime, and a Megan Bozek power play blast gave the U.S. the win.
Jill Saulnier, Loren Gabel, and Melodie Daoust, scored for the visitors. Alex Cavallini made 17 saves to earn the win for the home team.
”I think we need to learn from our mistakes,” Daoust said post-game. “We need to keep improving what we are good at. We’re going to have to work on our speciality teams. We need to go back to work, and be ready for worlds.”
The scoring was fast and furious as both teams rippled the net in the opening minutes of the game. Knight continued where she left off in Vancouver. Bozek fired a shot from the point towards the Canadian net, with defenders draped all over her. Knight was able to deflect the shot past Lacasse with 2:37 gone in the first.
”It was a back and forth game,” Knight explained. “A lot of ups and downs to it on both sides. I’m happy that we were able to win, and take the final shot there, on net.”
Sensing that his team needed to weather an early storm, Coach Troy Ryan called a timeout for Canada. The regroup paid dividends, 24 seconds later, Saulnier was alone in the slot. Victoria Bach found the winger, and Saulnier scored stick-side on Cavallini to tie the game at 1-1.
Canada was able to take the lead momentarily thanks to a two on one goal late in the opening period. Loren Gabel and Saulnier broke in on an odd-man rush. Gabel fired glove side on Cavallini. The U.S. goaltender was able to get a piece but it wasn’t enough.
USA Hockey took a page from the Canadian playbook and replied with a quick goal for themselves. Hayley Scamurra slipped the puck through to Cameranesi. The Minnesota native beat Lacasse low glove side to tie the game at 2-2.
In a fast flowing first period, neither team was whistled for a penalty.
Canada was able to kill off the first penalty of the game when Jessie Eldridge was sent to the box for interference 29 seconds into the second period. The 22-year-old was in a giving mood as she stepped out of the box and setup Daoust for a 3-2 Canada lead.
In the absence of captain, Marie-Philip Poulin, the Barrie, Ontario native found herself playing on Canada’s top line alongside Daoust, and Blayre Turnbull. Eldridge earned her first point with Canada on Daoust’s back-hand deke that got past Cavallini.
After an exciting back and forth first period, both teams settled into the action and played with a more defence approach in the second. Hockey Canada was able to take a 3-2 lead into the third and final period, but it would not last for long.
With exactly 11 minutes to play in the third period. Monique Lamoureux-Morando fired a shot from distance. The puck found a way through a maze of Canadian players in front on Lacasse. The record crowd at The Pond cheered as the game was tied 3-3.
”I think it was just continue to lay on the pressure,” Pankowski explained the U.S. strategy in the third period. “We started to shine, and we got a couple bounces go our way. As soon as we got playing our game, we were able to hem them in a little bit there, and get some momentum.”
As the game was destined to head to overtime, Canada picked up an unfortunate penalty before 3-on-3 action. Erin Ambrose was called for tripping with 11.7 second left. The Southern California fans roared as both teams line-up for the overtime face-off.
On a 4-on-3 power play, Megan Bozek was able to send a slap-shot past Lacasse.
The untimely disciplined penalty cost Hockey Canada and the U.S. took full advantage.
The second edition of the USA Hockey and Hockey Canada Rivalry Series featured fast paced, exciting hockey. Both teams showed that the rivalry intensity is still there, and no matter what the circumstances are, a series between the two countries is must watch.
Other than the first meeting between the two teams in December, the majority of the games were tight and contested games. The margin of victory for each team was slim. The Americans and Canadians are still the cream of the crop when it comes to women’s hockey. The 2020 World Championships in April should be another dandy.