The rivalry between the United States and Canadian women’s teams is one of the most contentious in hockey. They are both expected to face each other in the gold medal game, and this preliminary match-up gave viewers just a taste of the intensity that we may see if it does occur.
From puck drop, both teams played physical two-way hockey and kept pace with each other as they aggressively chased a momentum gaining first goal.
Ten minutes in, Meghan Agosta of Canada was called for an illegal hit and Team USA was sent on their first power play of the game — an unsuccessful two minutes.
With three minutes left in the first period, Canada scored a goal, but it was waved off by the referee for a crease violation. In international competition, attacking players aren’t allowed in the crease and there were plenty of players from both teams piled in during the attempt.
With less than 2 minutes left to go in the first, USA’s Lee Stecklein was sent to the box for interference — sending Canada their first power play. The first period finished with no goals and a fairly even shot count of 14-to-12, US.
Five minutes into the second period, Megan Keller was called for yet another interference which gave the Canadian squad an early power play. Agosta picked up a no-look backhand pass and knocked the puck in the net off the goalie’s pads. 1-0, Canada.
Meghan Agosta gets the first goal of the game on the power play for Canada. Some nice passing to set it up. pic.twitter.com/X51dZkyhhw— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) February 15, 2018
With less than five minutes to go in the second period, a net-front pile-up led to a penalty shot from Canadian after Haley Irwin closed her hand on the puck in her own crease. Team USA sent Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson to center ice for the shot and a chance to put the US on the board but her backhand shot was ultimately knocked away. The second period finished with the US out-shooting Canada 18-to-6 but failed to convert on any quality chances. 2-0, Canada.
Jocelyne Lamoureux throwing everything she could at Genevieve Lacasse on the penalty shot, but Lacasse stays with it. pic.twitter.com/pMJQc4YO2N— Hannah Bevis (@Hannah_Bevis1) February 15, 2018
After a rough and disorganized second period, Kendall Coyne brought new life to the US team, breaking the Canadian defense and putting in a speedy goal 23 seconds in to the third period — cutting the Canadian lead in half.
Could watch this Kendall Coyne goal replay all day pic.twitter.com/oYbYfIlWlD— Hannah Bevis (@Hannah_Bevis1) February 15, 2018
If Kendall Coyne splitting four defenders to cut Canadian lead to 2-1 doesn't fire up Team USA, what will? https://t.co/NcjqNxjE95— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) February 15, 2018
Later in the period, Canada had another goal waved off as the puck was sent into the net off a skate. After review, the officials determined the player used a kicking motion as the US caught a break.
Canada's goal is waved off because of a kicking motion from Irwin. pic.twitter.com/tSc58WuTFH— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) February 15, 2018
During the last 10 minutes of the game, the US team battled every second to get a goal and push the game to overtime but, after a series of penalties by Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker, the US team was unable to find their way. The game finished in Canada's favor by a score of 2-to-1.
With emotions running high, the teams got extra chippy in the final seconds of the game. The US team, convinced that their last second net-front effort resulted in a game-tying goal, waited until there was a video review before eventually lining up for handshakes.
Despite out-shooting the Canadians 45-to-23, team USA was unable to get the goal they needed to keep them in the game. Canadian goaltender Genevieve Lacasse put up an absolutely stunning performance as she blocked a total of 44 shots from the US team.
“We played extremely hard we put a lot of pucks to the net,” said Team USA Head Coach Robb Stauber. “At the end of the day we just need to get one more. This team is ready for a breakout. And when we do, I wouldn’t want to be on the other end of it.”