After Team USA won the first three games of the Rivalry Series, they looked to be in the driver’s seat to take the seven-game series. In a dominant 5-1 win on Monday in Trois-Rivières, Team Canada pulled the series even at three games a piece setting up a one-game showdown for the series on Wednesday at Place Bell in Laval.
Sarah Nurse and Laura Stacey scored 18 seconds apart early in the first period on American goaltender Aerin Frankel. Canada outshot Team USA 10-2 in the first period and 30-15 overall. Ann-Renée Desbiens made 14 saves.
The Americans cut the lead to 2-1 with a goal from Kelly Pannek, but Canada scored three unanswered goals from Claire Thompson, Brianne Jenner, and Marie-Philip Poulin. Poulin’s goal was her 200th point with the national team, becoming the fifth player to reach that mark.
Poulin was also honoured before the game for winning the Northern Star Award as Canadian athlete of the year.
“It’s hard to put it all into words. Standing on the blue line, seeing my parents and my brother; it’s a very special moment. Not only because my family was here tonight but knowing my teammates were beside me as well,” Poulin said. “I wouldn’t get these accolades without any of them. It’s special, they’re friends and family and all it was a dream tonight. Coming out with the win tonight was huge; we’re excited for Wednesday but the win in front of a full crowd … I want to say a big thank you to Trois-Rivières, who showed up for us tonight and that really means a lot.”
“Obviously she’s a special player and person,” said Team Canada coach Troy Ryan. “You just love those kind of tributes when you can celebrate them in her home province, in front of her family and against the U.S. Even the way to end it, Jenner to Pou, what better way to end it and just to enjoy it. She always redirects (the attention) towards others, but for myself and the other coaches, she’s one of those players that it’s special we get a front-row seat and we get to go along for the ride.”
The game was played in front of a sellout crowd of 4,636 fans at the Colisée Vidéotron in Trois-Rivières. It was Canada’s first home win of the series. They lost in Kelowna, Kamloops, and Seattle before winning games in Henderson, Nevada and Los Angeles before Monday’s win.
“We’re really excited we did the job and got the win tonight,” said Brianne Jenner. “Emotionally it was a big win because we haven’t had a win at home in awhile. We didn’t win early in the series, so to be able to do that, with this amazing crowd – it’s one of the best I’ve ever played in front of – everyone just soaked it all in at the end.”
The winner-take-all Game 7 of the Rivalry Series - which would have been played regardless - will be Wednesday in Laval. It’s almost fitting that it comes down to a single game between the two countries.