This past week, the Hockey Canada women's team split a two game pre-tournament series with the Okanagan Hockey Academy (OHA) Selects and beat Team Sweden in an exhibition game ahead of the 2016 IIHF Women's World Championship in Kamloops, B.C. The tournament begins tonight and Canada will play their first game against their fiercest rivals, Team USA.
The OHA Selects, a men's team from the Okanagan Valley. Both games went to overtime, with Canada losing the first on Monday night and claiming revenge two nights later in a shootout. This mini-series was put together to allow Team Canada to get used to playing with each other prior to the World Championship, but also to challenge them with bigger rivals who can push them to their limits.
Game one was a back-and-forth affair, with Team Canada taking an early 2-0 lead only to fall behind 4-2 in the second period. A two-goal effort in the third period sent the game to overtime, which lasted all of 28 seconds, ending on a goal by the Selects' Quinn Schneidmiller.Les Canadiennes forward Marie-Philip Poulin scored twice in the losing effort, netting both the game's first goal and the game-tying goal to send it to overtime. Brianne Jenner and Laura Fortino were the two other goal-scorers for Team Canada. Between the pipes, Emerance Maschmeyer stopped 29 of 34 shots, shutting the door on all eight third-period shots by OHA which allowed Canada to tie the game up.
Here is a look at one of Poulin's goals from the first game:
Wednesday evening, in a rematch, the Selects opened the scoring which forced Canada to once again come from behind. Goals by Meaghan Mikkelson and Meghan Agosta put the Canadians up by one after 20 minutes. Poulin showed her silky smooth passing skills, setting up Agosta for the go-ahead goal:
Halfway through the final regulation period, Ryan Murphy snuck a rebound behind Canadiennes netminder Charline Labonté to tie the game up. Overtime solved nothing. Labonté stopped all four shots she faced to push the game to a deciding shootout, where the Boisbriand native stopped both Murphy and Mitch MacMillan. Labonté made 36 saves and stopped two shootout attempts to record the win. Meanwhile, Canada's shooters Jennifer Wakefield and Rebecca Johnston both scored to secure the win. Both shootout goals are worth a look:
Jennifer Wakefield with a sweet backhand goal:
Rebecca Johnston freezes OHA goalie Bobby Milligan:
Saturday, Team Canada played an exhibition game in Kamloops beating Team Sweden 9-0. Maschmeyer recorded the shutout for Canada while Rebecca Johnston notched a hat trick in what was her 100th game with the national team. Johnston missed most of the CWHL season after foot surgery but has been absolutely unstoppable since her return to the ice, both for the Calgary Inferno and for Team Canada. In Saturday's game, Neepawa, MB native Halli Krzyzaniak scored her first ever goal for Team Canada in the blowout win.
All told, it was a solid camp for Team Canada, who appear poised to challenge the competition to reclaim their top spot in international play. Stay tuned to EOTP for ongoing coverage of the tournament, starting with an in-depth preview of Team Canada by Robyn Flynn later today.