KANATA, Ont. — Jennifer Wakefield scored the winning goal as Canada overcame a two-goal deficit to defeat the United States 3-2 in a shootout.
It could be a costly victory, however, as Canada’s captain, Hayley Wickenheiser, was injured early in the second period and did not return.
Rebecca Johnston and Catherine Ward scored third-period goals to force overtime while Shannon Szabados made 27 saves for the win.
Hilary Knight had the lone shootout goal for the Americans while Meghan Agosta-Marciano tallied to keep the shootout alive until the fourth round when Wakefield scored the winner.
It was slightly anti-climactic to end such an exciting game with a shootout, but the Canadians will take it.
“I would have loved to see the four-on-four a bit longer,” says forward Caroline Ouellette. “The team game becomes an individual game in the shootout.
“[That said,] I am so proud of Meghan Agosta and Jennifer Wakefield, who scored in the shootout. You know, there is a lot of pressure in that situation to score.”
The Canadians trailed 2-0 on the board and 13-5 in shots in the first period and were never really in the game until the third, when they appeared to realize the urgency of the situation.
“I’m proud of our first few minutes,” says Ouellette. “We came out strong, we looked fast, and I think I killed a little bit of that with my [body checking] penalty.”
American goalie Jessie Vetter put forth a strong 24-save performance in what perhaps should have been a win.
With less than nine minutes left in the third period, Vetter made a few great saves in quick succession, but was unable to track the final rebound which found itself on Johnston’s stick.
Down a goal with the final minutes ticking by, Canada turned on the heat and spent much of the second half of the third period in the American zone.
Despite being in the attacking zone for much of the third period, nothing would occur until there were less than two minutes in the game when Ward scored to tie the game.
The Scotiabank Place erupted as a rebound that deflected off somebody in the crease was snapped home by the defenceman Ward to tie the game at 18:13 of the final regulation frame.
“We’re always constantly growing and mistakes were made,” said American head coach Katey Stone. “This is a great time for our team to learn from this experience, feel what it’s like to play in a crowd that’s against you, and maybe feel a bit of pressure.”
Monique Lamoureux and Brianna Decker had given the United States the early lead and even killed a 70-second-long 5-on-3 situation in the second period, but the Canadians managed to hang on before swinging the momentum in their favour in the third.
Canada managed 15 shots on goal in the third period to lead 26-24 in that department after 60 minutes of play.
They did not manage a shot on net during the overtime period, though Agosta-Marciano did have a partial breakaway broken up by a Vetter poke check while forward Marie-Philip Poulin hit the post shortly after.
The players of the game were Vetter for the U.S. and Ward for Canada, in what could very well be a tune-up for a playoff match-up between the two heavily-favoured teams.
The Canadians face Switzerland on Wednesday as round-robin action continues at the IIHF Women’s World Championship.