Canada and United States in women’s hockey is one of the best rivalries in all of sports, but for the last few years — especially at the World Championships — it has been one-sided in favour of the Americans.
On Thursday night at the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship in Calgary, Canada snapped an eight-game losing streak against the USA at the World Championship dating back to 2013 with a resounding 5-1 win.
Jamie Lee Rattray scored twice and acting captain Brianne Jenner had three assists in the win. Ann-Renée Desbiens made 22 saves.
“Obviously we’re a really fast and physical team, and to be able to put it together against a team like the U.S. is big for us,” said Desbiens. “To see how well the rookies played, it’s been great to see them under that kind of pressure, and to show up is amazing. People in Canada should be excited; we did really well as a team and it shows what we can bring to the table against any opponent.”
It was Canada’s first multi-goal win against the United States at the World Championship since 2007.
Canada, who had yet to score a first period goal, got off to a quick start against an American team that had yet to allow a goal in three games. Just over seven minutes into the period, US goaltender Alex Cavallini lost her goalie stick and had a defender’s stick. Mélodie Daoust managed to slip the puck past Cavallini to give Canada the 1-0 lead.
Canada doubled their lead when Renata Fast’s shot hit off Cavallini and went into the air. Kendall Coyne Schofield tried to bat it out of danger, but it still managed to find its way into the net. It was originally called no goal, but after review it was ruled a goal.
The Canadians had their best period of the tournament and held the Americans without a shot for most of it. They went into the first intermission with a 2-0 lead, and a 13-4 advantage in shots.
“We got away from our game... In fact we never played our game, and I think that’s what went wrong,” said American captain Schofield.
“We talked about keys to the game for our team, and I feel like they did everything we were trying to do,” said Team USA coach Joel Johnson. “They played fast, they were all over us, they didn’t our defence any time and space, they got good shots and bodies to the net. There’s no secret. It’s not like they invented some magic sauce and captured that, they were just really good.”
Canada came out in the second period with more of the same, and quickly added to their lead. Jamie Lee Rattray, who was promoted to Canada’s top line because of the injury to Marie-Philip Poulin, scored two goals in 2:58. Rattray started the tournament as the 13th forward and has made a difference every time she has stepped on the ice.
“The biggest thing for me is any time I get out there, I want to make an impact. Whether that’s one shift or 10 shifts, it’s just doing anything I can to help the team out and bring the energy,” Rattray said. “I had a lot of fun out there and that’s all I’m going to do every time I get on the ice. That’s the one thing the group has been really good at – no matter who goes out or what situation, everyone has made an impact and it’s been really fun to be a part of.”
After the fourth goal, the Americans called a time out and pulled Cavallini for Nicole Hensley. They did not manage to stop the Canadian onslaught, however. Cavallini made 16 saves on 20 shots.
Sarah Nurse broke in three minutes later and fired a shot past Hensley. Originally play continued because it was ruled that it hit the post, but like the team’s second goal it was confirmed on video review.
“I think we give ourselves a bit of time to look at this and figure out what we need to change for next time but eventually we need to turn the page and move on and look at next game and the rest of the tournament,” said American defender Lee Stecklein.
Throughout the game, there was physical play between the two teams as the Americans likely had some frustration from the way the game was going.
In the third period, the USA won the shot battle 11-4 to make the 27-23 game total look more respectable. They also managed to get a goal on the board when Stecklein’s shot made its way through traffic early in the period.
Canada head coach Troy Ryan said that Marie-Philip Poulin, who missed Thursday’s game, will continue to be evaluated on the off day on Friday to see when she may be able to return.
With Finland’s 6-0 win (led by Petra Nieminen’s three goal, one assist first period) over Switzerland and Japan’s 2-1 win over Germany, the quarterfinal matchups are set for Saturday.
As winners of Group A, Canada will face Germany at 7:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday. The United States will face Japan. Finland will play the Czech Republic, and the Russian Olympic Committee will play Switzerland.
The winners of the quarterfinals will play in the semi finals to decide the bronze and gold medal games, while the losers of the quarterfinals will play placement games to decide which team will be in Group A at the 2023 World Championship as the tournament’s fifth place finisher.