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Comeback complete: Canada dominates en route to Rivalry Series title

A 5-0 win at Place Bell in Laval overcame a slow start to clinch the series.

Canada v United States Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images

Over the last two games, and her entire career, Marie-Philip Poulin has had the crowd chant her name, and erupt every time the puck touched her stick. When they chanted her name late in the third period it was for a reason she had never experienced before: a penalty.

Poulin got into a physical shoving match with American defender Megan Keller and the two were given matching roughing penalties. With less than two minutes left in the game, both players were sent off the ice. The Canadian captain went off the ice to a huge ovation and the crowd chanting her name like she was in a title fight.

“It was the first time actually,” Poulin said, laughing, about the crowd chanting her name after a penalty. “We were pushing... It’s intense. It’s a rivalry. We’re conscious of that.”

In the end, it was a perfect way for the crowd to celebrate a dominant 5-0 Canada win over the United States on Wednesday night at Place Bell in Laval along with choruses of “Olé’s” and “Hey hey hey goodbye”.

Poulin stayed in the hallway watching the clock expire before going back on the ice to celebrate with her teammates. Canada won four straight games after falling behind in the seven-game series 3-0, with two of the losses coming at home.

The Americans, coming off a 5-1 loss on Monday came out strong, testing goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens, but she was solid. The best chance early on came on a shot from Kelly Pannek in the slot, but the goaltender made one of her 25 saves in the shutout win.

Both teams had sluggish power play opportunities in the first period, but late in the frame, Canada took the lead at even strength. Laura Stacey drove down the wing, centred the puck to Emily Clark, and it deflected and sat in the slot when Ella Shelton crashed the net and put it past Nicole Hensley.

That goal seemed to wake up the crowd, and it woke up the Canadians as well as they took complete control of the game in the second period.

“When we came into the locker room we knew that period wasn’t our best,” Stacey said. “But we were lucky to escape and still have a lead. We were excited about that. We used that as a positive that ‘hey, that wasn’t our best period but we’re still in the lead so let’s go out there, play our best and see what can happen’.”

Less than four minutes into the second period, Jamie Lee Rattray entered the zone, made a pass to Poulin in the slot who walked in and fired the puck past Hensley to make it a 2-0 Canada lead.

Just one game after scoring her 200th point with the Canadian senior national team, the goal was her 98th as she approaches yet another milestone mark.

The Americans went on another power play shortly after, when Brianne Jenner shot the puck over the glass, but again couldn’t generate much in terms of dangerous chances, and the shots they did get were stopped by Desbiens.

Jincy Dunne took a illegal check penalty to give Canada their second power play of the game, and a chance to put the game out of reach. That was when the line of Stacey, Blayre Turnbull, and Emily Clark took over.

On the ensuing power play, Stacey’s shot was tipped by Turnbull and over Hensley to make it 3-0.

The goal forced a goaltending change for Team USA as Maddie Rooney entered the game. Hensley can’t be blamed for most of the goals she allowed, but three goals on eight shots was enough for coach John Wroblewski to make the switch.

Despite the change, just 32 seconds later, the trio struck again. Stacey and Turnbull performed a double give and go and Turnbull fired the shot past Rooney to make it 4-0.

Canada wasn’t done there. After Desbiens made a sequence of saves on Alex Carpenter at one end, Jill Saulnier led Victoria Bach on a breakaway who put the backhand past Rooney to make it 5-0.

It was Canada’s fourth goal of the period, and third goal in just 2:08.

Desbiens kept the shutout, and allowed one goal over her two starts in Trois-Rivières and Laval. They were her first two national team games in her home province since 2017, and the first games in the Montreal area since 2013.

“It’s very exciting, obviously I’m from here, I was able to play in front of family and friends and familiar faces. I was looking left and right and there was always someone I knew in the stands,” said Desbiens. “Obviously we hope that we’re going to find the next Marie-Philip Poulin or maybe they can wait for my job, I want to keep it a little longer, but hopefully we’re going to keep finding players to come out of Quebec.”

She was also asked whether she prefers the 15 shot effort she had on Monday or the busier night on Wednesday.

“I prefer to win,” Desbiens said. “It doesn’t matter much what the game is like, as long as we win I’ve done my job.”

The win secured Canada the Rivalry Series, which is the last matchup the two will have before the World Championships held in Brampton, Ontario starting in April. The rosters will be different as many of the NCAA players on both sides missed most of the series due to their school commitments and schedule.