Canada bounces back to even series with Team USA

A three-goal second period drove Canada to their first win

If Canada head coach Laura Schuler wanted a better effort from her team after Sunday’s 5-2 loss, Wednesday’s 5-1 win at a sold-out Agganis Arena in Boston was mission accomplished.

Three second period goals, one short-handed, one on the power play, and one at even strength turned a 1-1 game after 20 minutes into a 4-1 lead. Canada only had eight shots in the period. It forced the United States to switch from Nicole Hensley to Alex Rigsby after the frame.

The three-goal period was a reversal of the first game of the series on Sunday when the United States scored three goals in the second period.

“It meant a lot [to get this win],” said Schuler. “I knew we could play better from our coaching staff through to our players and we definitely showed that tonight. I thought our girls played with a lot of grit and determination, their work ethic was absolutely outstanding, the energy on our bench was amazing and our girls really gave everything they had tonight.”

Natalie Spooner had two goals, and Meghan Agosta had a goal and an assist for Canada. Genevieve Lacasse made 37 saves, and was great for Canada making several big saves throughout the night. She was expected to be Canada’s backup, but with questions surrounding Shannon Szabados, she may take on a bigger role.

Erica Howe was listed as Canada’s third goaltender after Emerance Maschmeyer had that role in Quebec City.

Spooner opened the scoring at 7:08 of the first period when she converted Agosta’s pass on a two-on-one.

The Americans would tie it up three minutes later when Emily Pfalzer picked up her own rebound to beat Lacasse.

Less than five minutes into the second period, with Brianne Jenner off for holding, Jill Saulnier and Laura Fortino broke for a two-on-one shorthanded. Saulnier would put a perfect pass on the tape for Fortino who redirected the puck past Hensley to give Canada another one goal lead.

Canada would take two more penalties, and had some chances including when Laura Stacey would intercept a pass from Hensley and have a wide open net, only to hit the post. The Canadian penalty kill did not allow the Americans a power play goal on nine opportunities. Canada will not be able to do that every game, so discipline needs to be reined in going forward.

Canada would blow the game open with two goals in 1:22 late in the second period. Spooner would score her second of the game on the power play, and that was followed up by Agosta’s second goal in as many games with only 15 seconds remaining in the period.

Agosta and Spooner were centered by Marie-Philip Poulin in a new-look top line.

“It was huge to come back after that loss, I think we learned a lot from it and we were able to build and improve on a lot of things,” Spooner said. “Today we played a much more aggressive game and took it to them when we had the opportunities.”

Poulin scored the only goal of the third period on an insane shot to beat Rigsby and make the game 5-1.

The teams will face off next at the Four Nations Cup in November which will be held in Florida where Canada and the United States will face each other at least once. The next four games of the series will be held in a two-week span in December.

Canada still has five cuts to make as they go from 28 players to 23. The Americans already have their 23-player roster.

“The win is going to give us a lot of confidence moving forward,” said Agosta. “We are a great team, we are very skilled and very talented, we have a lot of young players but we have what it takes. The coaching staff is going to have a really hard time choosing this team but with whoever they choose we can be successful and we need to believe in that, believe in ourselves and our abilities and go out there and play like we did tonight.”

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