SOCHI, RUSSIA— Canada found a way to beat the United States and did it on the world’s stage. Canadian Meghan Agosta-Marciano scored two goals for her country that was good enough to beat Team USA 3-2 on Wednesday afternoon.
After dominating their last two games beating Finland on Saturday, and smashing Switzerland on Monday, a match with Canada brought a strong interest into the game. Team
USA’s 9-0 rout of the Swiss with Amanda Kessel, Monique Lamoureux and Kendall Coyne scoring a pair each on Monday was their best showing of prelims to date.
The Canadian women have been marching through their last pair of games with a 3-0 shutout of the Finns, and 5-0 dominance over the Swiss looked to give the American squad a real game of hockey.
TheUS has won the last four meetings between the two rivals and with neutral ice a factor, anything was possible.
The United States came out and took the possession into Canada’s end to get an early start to their offense. The Canadians defense fared well during the American’s rush on goaltender Caroline Labonte. Canada went on their first power play four minutes into the first period but could not pull fast shots on
US goalie Jessie Vetter.
The Americans went on the man advantage as Canadian captain Caroline Ouellette was called for holding giving the Americans a chance to improve their power play that is 2 for 7 through two games. In the final two minutes, Canada went on their second power play of the period as Brianna Decker body checked Marie-Philip Poulin into the boards.
The US penalty killing unit made it out with the end of the power play and the period with the Americans outshooting Canada 11-8, but each took five scoring chances on the net with no score.
The US started the second period with a show of force to get out front of Canada. Despite their best efforts the Canadian defense was alive to keep out bad goals.
Canada went on their third man advantage taking just a single shot on Vetter so far. Ten seconds in, the US stole the puck with Hilary Knight going on a 2 on 1 breakaway only to be stopped by Labonte.
Canada handed a second straight chance to the Americans only to pay for it soon after.
Defenseman Anne Schleper sent a drive from the blue line that Knight earned credit with a tip of the stick to gain her third goal of the tournament and a perfect opening lead on the Canadians.
Team USA went for another odd man rush to the Canadian end but Labonte’s lucky streak held on to close the second with relief. The US held the shots to the net over
Canada 13-11 and taking a dozen scoring chances in the second with their one goal margin looking unstoppable. With 20 minutes left in regulation a sixth straight win over Canada looked good to happen once more.
Canada came out in the third period with a serious attitude as they did not want to drop another game to the United States. The Canadians caught a break on their fourth chance where Marciano scored her second goal on a pass play turned scramble that left her undefended on the glove side of Vetter to tie the game and break their power play drought in the game. Marciano contributed to Canada leading the game with a shot by Haley Wickenheiser that looked to be held by Vetter leading to referees blowing the whistle.
As the whistle was blown the puck began to cross the line, but the explanation was that the goaltender bobbled the puck for it to remain in play. “It was a shot, and I had the rebound, and I thought I had the rebound, heard the whistle, and then all of the sudden they’re cheering but that’s just the way it goes,”Â said Vetter. As Canada had control of the lead and the American’s frustration, the chance to open the score farther out of reach became more likely as the Canadian women notched shot after shot on their adversaries.
The Vancouver Olympic MVP forward made it possible with a huge breakaway two minutes into the third period that left her alone to shoot in between the pads of Vetter to pick up her second goal. The
US was held to just three shots that came in the last three and a half minutes with too little offense coming too late. The Americans pulled their goaltender from the net for the sixth man and scored off a cleared rebound that gave Schleper the time to snap a shot high on the slot for her first of the tourney. The US took a bad penalty with 30 seconds left on the clock as the team was called for too many men on the ice that took the hope of overtime off the table.
Labonte recorded her second victory making 25 saves while Vetter split her second start making 28 saves in the process. The American women will still look to make the playoffs as they move into the playoffs where meeting Canada is very much possible in the coming week. “I think we played a good one and built a lot off this and we can move into the semis and keep playing good hockey.”Â