CANADA EDGED IN OT IN RIVALRY FINALE
JASON LA ROSE
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Jill Saulnier (Halifax, N.S.) scored a goal and set up another, but Canada’s National Women’s Team dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the United States in the final game of the Rivalry Series on Saturday night.
Including the two-game series in Pittsburgh in November, the Canadians posted three wins and an overtime loss in seven showdowns with the U.S. during the season.
Loren Gabel (Kitchener, Ont.) and Mélodie Daoust (Valleyfield, Que.) had the other goals for Canada, while Geneviève Lacasse (Kingston, Ont.) turned aside 26 shots between the pipes.
The Americans opened the scoring early when Hilary Knight redirected a Megan Bozek shot upstairs on Lacasse just 2:37 in, but Saulnier went skate-to-stick off a set-up from Rebecca Johnston (Sudbury, Ont.) to get Canada even 24 seconds later.
Gabel gave the Canadians their first lead at 16:32, racing down the left wing and beating U.S. netminder Alex Cavallini under the arm, only for Dani Cameranesi to go short-side 1:52 later and send the game to the intermission even at 2-2.
Daoust had the only goal of the second period; Jessie Eldridge (Barrie, Ont.) jumped on a turnover deep in the U.S. zone and slipped a cross-crease pass to Daoust, who snuck a backhand just inside the post.
The assist was the first international point for Eldridge, who made her national team debut Monday in Victoria, B.C.
Canada tried to guide home the victory in the third period, but Monique Lamoureux-Morando tipped an Emily Matheson point shot five-hole on Lacasse nine minutes into the final frame to force overtime.
A Canadian penalty in the dying seconds of regulation time put the U.S. on the power play in the extra period, and Bozek finished off a scramble in front of the Canadian net just 42 seconds in for the win.
The two teams were part of history; the 13,320 fans in Anaheim was the largest crowd to ever watch an international women’s hockey game in the United States.
Next up for both is the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Nova Scotia. Canada will face off against Finland in its opener on March 31 and will take on the U.S. to wrap up prelim play on April 5.