2022 Rivalry Series: Canada extends series vs. USA with OT win in Game 5

Danielle Serdachny #92 of Canada celebrates her game winning overtime goal with Marie-Philip Poulin #29 and Renata Fast #14, for a 3-2 overtime win over Team USA.
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Danielle Serdachny scored with 2:44 left in overtime to lift Team Canada past Team USA in Game 5 of the 2022-23 Rivalry Series on Monday night at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. The 21-year-old Serdachny, making just her second national team start, gave Canada a 3-2 win and cut the U.S. lead to 3-2 in the seven-game series.

Also scoring for Canada was 28-year-old Laura Stacey and 22-year-old Sarah Fillier, both of whom recorded their first goals of the series. Ella Shelton and Emily Clarke recorded assists on Stacey’s goal, with Brianne Jenner and Marie-Philip Poulin assisting on Fillier’s tally. Emerance Maschmeyer made 32 saves in net.

“Honestly, I just jumped off the bench,” Stacey told the NHL Network following her goal. “Ella had the puck in the middle and I kinda saw a free lane and she made the perfect pass on my stick. I don’t know what I saw, to be honest, but I just tried to kind of get in the way of the defense been there — I think it was (Megan) Keller — and put it on net and good things happen, I guess.”

Fillier’s goal with 2:54 left in the second ended a power-play drought for Canadians, who had gone scoreless in 16 previous opportunities in the series. Poulin’s assist marked career point No. 199 for the team captain, who was recently inducted into Boston University’s Hall of Fame. Earlier this month, Poulin became the first female hockey player to be named Canada’s Athlete of the Year, and she now stands fifth on the Canadian women’s all-time scorer list.

The Americans opened the scoring in first when 23-year-old Cayla Barnes – the only member of the U.S. roster who is from Southern California (Eastvale, Calif.) – scored her first goal in her second appearance in the series. The goal, assisted by Amanda Kessel and Kendall Coyne Schofield, unleashed an epic teddy-bear toss, with the stuffed animals gathered as donations to the Salvation Army.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” said Barnes, who plays college hockey for Boston. “You know, family and friends are here. And just to get that first one in early is incredible.”

“It’s awesome to see the young fanbase here,” added Barnes, who played her 14U hockey for the Los Angeles Kings Jr. Kings. “I didn’t have that visibility when I was younger, so just for them to be able to see us play here and see that they can do it is just an awesome experience for them.”

Also scoring her first goal in the series for the U.S. was 22-year-old Taylor Heise, who tied the game at 2-2 in the third. The University of Minnesota forward was the leading scorer in the NCAA with 34 points, earning her the 2022 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award.

The Rivalry Series continues in February, with the final two games being played on Canadian ice. Host cites will be announced in early 2023.


2022-23 Rivalry Series schedule, results

DATE TIME/RESULT LOCATION NETWORK
Tuesday, Nov. 15 USA 4, CAN 3 (SO) Kelowna, British Columbia NHL Network
Thursday, Nov. 17 USA 2, CAN 1 Kamloops, British Columbia NHL Network
Sunday, Nov. 20 USA 4, CAN 2 Seattle, Washington NHL Network
Thursday, Dec. 15 CAN 3, USA 2 Henderson, Nevada NHL Network
Monday, Dec. 19 CAN 3, USA 2 (OT) Los Angeles, California NHL Network
February (date TBD) TBD Canada (city TBD) NHL Network
February (date TBD) TBD Canada (city TBD) NHL Network

Who’s playing in the December Rivalry Series games?

TEAM USA 

The December roster returns 19 players from the 2022 U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team that captured silver in Beijing in February. Those returners include Cayla Barnes, Hannah Brandt, Alex Carpenter, Jesse Compher, Kendall Coyne Schofield, Jincy Dunne, Savannah Harmon, Caroline Harvey, Nicole Hensley, Megan Keller, Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, Abbey Murphy, Kelly Pannek, Maddie Rooney, Abby Roque, Hayley Scamurra, Lee Stecklein and Grace Zumwinkle.

All 23 players that represented the U.S. at the 2022 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Herning, Denmark, are on December’s roster, as are 11 players from the 2018 U.S. Olympic Women’s Hockey Team that won gold in PyeongChang, where they beat Canada 3-2 in a shootout. Those players include Barnes, Brandt, Coyne Schofield, Kali Flanagan, Hensley, Keller, Kessel, Knight, Pannek, Rooney and Stecklein. Rounding out the roster are 2022 Olympian Abbey Murphy and 18-year-old Tessa Janecke, the youngest player on the U.S. roster who is made her national team debut last Friday.

TEAM CANADA

The Canadians’ December roster features 16 players who won gold medals at the 2022 IIHF Women’s World Championship and 2022 Olympic Winter Games: Ashton Bell, Kristen Campbell, Emily Clark, Ann-Renée Desbiens, Renata Fast, Sarah Fillier, Brianne Jenner, Jocelyne Larocque, Emerance Maschmeyer, Sarah Nurse, Marie-Philip Poulin, Jamie Lee Rattray, Ella Shelton, Laura Stacey, Blayre Turnbull and Micah Zandee-Hart. Two-time Olympian Jill Saulnier returned to the lineup, with Julia Gosling making her first international appearance in more than a year. Two players made their national team debut this month — Megan Carter and Danielle Serdachny.


What is the Rivalry Series?

The Rivalry Series, introduced by USA Hockey and Hockey Canada during the 2018-19 season, is designed as an annual showcase of the highest level of women’s hockey at various locations in the United States and Canada. The first series comprised three games between the two national teams, with Canada winning 2-1. Team USA took 2019-20 title, winning the expanded five-game series 4-1 and wrapping with an overtime win in the finale in front of a then-record-breaking total of 13,320 fans in Anaheim, California.

Following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic and preparation for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, the Rivalry Series resumed this season with seven games over three months: three in November, two in December and two in February. Game 3 on Nov. 20, 2022, set a new U.S. attendance record as 14,551 fans turned out to see Team USA beat Canada 4-2, at Climate Pledge Arena.


2022-23 Rivalry Series rewind: USA holds 3-1 series lead

Game 1, Nov. 15: USA 4, CAN 3, SO — The seven-game series kicked off last month with Team USA grabbing a 2-0 lead off goals from Hannah Brandt and Hilary Knight. But Canada battled back with three unanswered goals and held a 3-2 lead with 13 minutes to go in the third. With just 1:29 remaining in regulation, Alex Carpenter tied it for the Americans, sending the game to overtime. The U.S. ultimately won in a shootout, with Knight and Carpenter scoring while U.S. goalie Nicole Hensley made two key saves. Series score: USA leads 1-0.

Game 2, Nov. 17: USA 2, CAN 1  Canada was first to get on the board when Marie-Philip Poulin capitalized off a penalty shot opportunity in the second period, but USA’s Kendall Coyne Schofield knotted the score just 1:12 later. Alex Carpenter scored the go-ahead tally with 6:36 remaining in the third to give the U.S. a 2-1 win and a 2-0 series lead. U.S. goalie Maddie Rooney recorded 19 saves in net. Series score: USA leads 2-0.

Game 3, Nov. 20: USA 4, CAN 2 — Team USA’s Hilary Knight had two goals and one assist to lead the U.S. women to a 4-2 win over Canada. Savannah Harmon and Abby Roque also scored for the U.S., which notched three consecutive wins against Canada for the first time since 2019. Goalie Nicole Hensley made 22 saves in front of a record-setting crown at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, where fan attendance totaled 14,551. Marie-Philip Poulin and Sarah Nurse scored for  Canada. Series score: USA leads 3-0.

Game 4, Dec. 19: CAN 3, USA 2  — Sarah Nurse scored the go-ahead goal with less than five minutes remaining to secure Team Canada’s first win of the 2022-23 Rivalry Series, winning 3-2 last Thursday at Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nev. Team USA’s Amanda Kessel opened the scoring late in the first, but Canada responded in the middle frame with two goals by Jamie Lee Rattray and Blayre TurnbullHilary Knight tied the game for USA in the third, but Nurse’s goal put Team Canada over the top. Goaltender Kristen Campbell made 21 saves for Canada, while Maddie Rooney made 13 saves in net for the U.S. Series score: USA leads 3-1.


Rivalry Series history

Following Monday’s loss, the U.S. holds a 6-2-2-3 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record over Canada all time in the Rivalry Series. Canada won the 2018-19 Rivalry Series with a 2-0-0-1 record, while the U.S. won the 2019-20 Rivalry Series with a 3-1-1-0 record.

Overall, Monday marked meeting No. 172 between Canada and the U.S., the 58th meeting on U.S. ice and the second ever in California. Monday was the second time the Rivalry Series has visited California, following a Feb. 8, 2020, meeting at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

Canada holds the edge in the overall (97-74-1) and in games played in the States (32-25-1). Of note, the U.S. and Canada have battled in the gold-medal game of six of seven Winter Olympics and 20 of 21 IIHF Women’s World Championship, with the two exceptions being the 2019 World Championship and 2006 Olympics. The Canadian women are the reigning Olympic and World champions.

2019-20 RIVALRY SERIES

DATE RESULT LOCATION U.S. PLAYER OF THE GAME
Dec. 14, 2019 USA 4, CAN 1 Hartford, Connecticut Alex Cavallini
Dec. 17, 2019 USA 2, CAN 1 Moncton, N.B. Alex Carpenter
Feb. 3, 2020 CAN 3, USA 2 (OT) Victoria, B.C. Hilary Knight
Feb. 5, 2020 USA 3, CAN 1 Vancouver, B.C. Katie Burt
Feb. 8, 2020 USA 4, CAN 3 (OT) Anaheim, California Megan Bozek

2018-19 RIVALRY SERIES

DATE RESULT LOCATION
Feb. 12 USA 1, CAN 0 London, Ontario
Feb. 14 CAN 4, USA 3 Toronto, Ontario
Feb. 17 CAN 2, USA 0 Detroit Michigan

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Diana Flores looks to break down gender barriers with turn as AFC offensive coordinator in 2023 Pro Bowl

Courtesy Diana Flores
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Diana Flores admits she was surprised when she became a viral sensation last spring, courtesy of a 15-second slow-motion clip showcasing her evasive maneuvers and fancy footwork while leaving at least three defenders in the dirt during Mexico’s 2022 national collegiate flag football championship.

“I never expected someone to record that moment,” said Mexico City native Flores, who led her team – the Monterrey Tech Borregos – to their third consecutive national title as a senior last May. “I was just having fun. I was just playing the game I love and then days later to see that it was viral on the internet — it was crazy. But at the same time, it was exciting because I remember when I was younger, I didn’t have a lot of flag football role models to follow. So now, for me to be a role model for many boys and girls that play my sport is something that really makes me happy and proud and also motivates me to keep getting better.”

Flores, who led the Mexico Women’s National Flag Football Team to a gold medal at the 2022 World Games, will have the chance to promote her sport on one of the world’s biggest stages this weekend when she serves as the AFC offensive coordinator for the NFL’s 2023 Pro Bowl Games, featuring the first-ever AFC vs. NFC Flag football games on Sunday in Las Vegas.

Organized in partnership with RCX Sports, the NFL’s flag football operating partner, and the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), Sunday’s Pro Bowl event will feature three 7-on-7 AFC vs. NFC flag games. Each game will be 20 minutes in length (two halves) and played on a 50-yard field with 10-yard end zones. Flores will be joined by Peyton Manning as the AFC head coach and Ray Lewis as defensive coordinator. On the NFC side, U.S. Women’s National Flag Football team quarterback Vanita Krouch will serve as offensive coordinator, with Eli Manning as NFC head coach and DeMarcus Ware as defensive coordinator.

“I think that this has been one of the best things in my life,” she recently told On Her Turf about her Pro Bowl appointment. “It is like a dream. I mean, I grew up watching football, watching the NFL, playing flag football. And now to be able to be part of all of this — it is bigger than my biggest dreams.”

Flores’ football dreams began as when she was just 8 years old. Her father — who played quarterback for the perennial football powerhouse Monterrey Tech program — took her to a practice and she fell in love with the sport. But as the time there were no teams for girls her age, so she played with girls twice her age and used it to her advantage, focusing on her own abilities and sharpening her skills. By age 14 she was playing NFL Flag in Mexico, where she was the only girl in the league, and at 15 she started playing NFL Flag in the U.S, where she finally played on an all-girls team.

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: U.S. flag football star Vanita Krouch ‘living the dream’ ahead of NFL Pro Bowl debut as NFC coordinator

“I remember when I started playing, I used to receive a lot of like comments, directly and indirectly from other people, like, ‘Why do you play that sport? That’s not a girls’ sport, that sport is for boys, you’re get injured, you’re going to get hurt, don’t play with boys, that’s too rude.’ And the list keeps going. But my mom and dad were so supportive. They always encouraged me not to listen to anybody, to just follow my passion.

“And I think thanks to them, I’ve always had this mentality that gender doesn’t matter. It just matters how passionate you are about your dreams, how hard you work for what you want to achieve. And that you will always demonstrate what you’re made for, depending on the hard work you do. So, I’ve lived through that [negativity], I have experienced that. And I think that it has been one of my biggest blessings to be able to experience — for myself — what sport can do and how gender barriers get broken when you follow your dreams and you connect with other people through your passion.”

At just 16 years old, Flores made Mexico’s national team, playing in the first of four Flag Football World Championships – so far. Last summer at the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, the 24-year-old Flores led Mexico to a 6-0 record, which included two wins over the U.S. women, who took silver. In the gold medal game against the United States, she completed 20 of 28 pass attempts for 210 yards and four touchdowns in Mexico’s 39-6 victory. She finished the tournament with 23 touchdown passes, the third-most among women’s teams, and she was the only starting quarterback to beat USA’s star QB, Krouch, who is 19-1 in international tournament play.

All that international experience so early in her career has given Flores a wise-beyond-her-years approach to playing flag football, a sport where she was frequently the only female player on the field and often the only Latin American as well.

“When I first came to the U.S., it was a little shocking to notice that I was probably the only Latin American girl playing,” she recalls. “But I think that it was easy for me because I got all the support from my coaches and my teammates. And since a young age, I think that I started to realize that sometimes what you do is for something bigger than yourself. That’s why you have to always give your best, in any situation. Even at that young age, I understood that I was representing more than myself on the field, I was representing Latin American people, Latin American girls in a sport that [many people thought] was meant to be for boys.”

RELATED: NFL still pushing for Olympic flag football with a chance ahead

One door Flores hopes to help open is the one leading to the Olympics. Flag football is on the short list being considered for inclusion in Los Angeles in 2028 Los Angeles. As an ambassador for flag football for the NFL and the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), she’s participated in talks with the International Olympic Committee, and just last month she was joined by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden in Mexico City where they joined forced to promote women’s empowerment and inclusion.

“I think for me, that experience is one of my top three,” she said of spending time with Biden. “I call them gifts from life, something that you didn’t expect it to happen, and somehow, one day, you’re right there in front of the First Lady. I admire her for what she does for boys and girls, for empowering woman and giving opportunities for everybody to achieve their dreams. So it was truly an honor to meet her, and also to be able to keep impacting my sport, not only on the field, but [off] the field, and have the opportunity keep inspiring others and keep impacting the world.”

As for what she hopes fans at the Pro Bowl and viewers at home take away from Sunday’s flag football showcase, Flores hopes they’ll see the characteristics that made her fall in love with flag in the first place: creativity, speed, agility, teamwork, passion and a lot of heart.

“I hope to show to all little girls and women that dreams come true, that nothing is impossible, to keep inspiring and opening opportunities and doors for women in sports, especially in the world of the NFL and football and flag football,” she says. “We’re going to make history, and I am so proud and happy for that. I’m really hoping that it is just the first step, not only for me, but for all the women that are coming after me.”

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Flag football star Vanita Krouch ‘living the dream’ ahead of NFL Pro Bowl debut as NFC coordinator

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When Vanita Krouch got the news that she was named NFC offensive coordinator for the 2023 Pro Bowl Games, featuring the first-ever AFC vs. NFC Flag football games on Sunday, the U.S. Women’s National Flag Football team quarterback admits her jaw nearly hit the ground.

And then she realized something even more profound.

“For the longest time, thinking about the moment, everything, you’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is a dream come true. Is this really happening?’” said the 42-year-old Krouch, known as the “Tom Brady of flag football” with a 19-1 record as USA’s starting quarterback in international tournaments since 2018.

“But then I started thinking to myself: You know what? None of us grew up thinking of this as a dream to obtain. So really, it’s kind of reversed where I’m living a dream. I get to be a pioneer in this growth of flag football for all and inclusion for all, youth and adults, [women and men]. It’s such an inclusive sport, and I get to be a part of this growth and still actively play. It’s exciting. I’m literally living the dream. I’m very much like, ‘Guys, don’t pinch me. Let me keep sleeping.’”

Organized in partnership with RCX Sports, the NFL’s flag football operating partner, and the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), Sunday’s Pro Bowl event will feature three 7-on-7 AFC vs. NFC flag games. Each game will be 20 minutes in length (two halves) and played on a 50-yard field with 10-yard end zones. Krouch will be joined by Eli Manning as NFC head coach and DeMarcus Ware as NFC defensive coordinator. On the AFC side, Mexico Women’s National Flag Football quarterback Diana Flores will serve as offensive coordinator, with Peyton Manning as head coach and Ray Lewis as defensive coordinator.

But Krouch’s journey to the Pro Bowl stage began under the unlikeliest of circumstances and was inspired by her own family odyssey, which began in Cambodia during the horrific regime of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s. Krouch’s mother, Phonnary Krouch, fled the country with three young sons in tow, running by night and hiding by day to escape, finding safety initially at a refugee camp in the Philippines. That’s where she welcomed Vanita, in September 1980, and two months later the family made its way to the United States. Krouch’s father exited the picture upon their arrival in America, leaving Phonnary to raise four children alone.

“In a nutshell, my mom is an amazing woman,” said Krouch, who first found sports via an elementary school flyer advertising youth soccer in Carrollton, Texas. “On the journey, she had a lot of trials, tribulations, … and after our dad left us, it was just mom and four kids in this little one-bedroom apartment. So, it was a challenge. I’m just so amazed by her strength and will to never give up.”

She also credits her mom for standing up to then-stereotypical notions that Asian girls should not play sports.

“I’m just thankful, honestly, that my mom allowed me to break the Asian culture barriers of a woman playing sports because that’s not easy,” she said. “She faced a lot of backlash from the community. But she said, ‘Hey, my child’s making good grades. She’s healthy, she’s good. She’s staying off the streets. I don’t see a problem.’ And she just let me do it. I was just lucky to have a mom that let me spread my wings.”

Krouch also had a few mentors along the way. Her elementary school PE teacher, Toni Neibes, stepped in to pay for those initial soccer fees and continued her support as Krouch transitioned to basketball in the fourth grade. She fell in love with the sport and excelled at it as well, eventually earning a full scholarship to play college basketball at Southern Methodist University. She wears the No. 4 to this day in honor of Niebes, who wore the same number as a young athlete. She also credits her fourth-grade teacher, Judy Ward, as having a lasting impact after the teacher made a habit out of showing up for her youth basketball games.

She pays tribute to them both through her clothing line, 4Ward Apparel, which features ever-changing collections emblazoned with relevant slogans encouraging female empowerment, inclusion and her personal mantra of “paying it forward” – something she does with the line itself. Each month, Krouch donates a portion of the sales to individuals, families or organizations in need.

After graduating SMU in 2003, Krouch continued to play basketball in semi-pro and adult leagues, but she was still searching for something to satisfy her competitive drive. She and a former college teammate stumbled on flag football during a Google search for local Dallas-area activities, and the rest – as they say – is history.

“It was like I drank the Kool Aid and I never looked back,” she says of her start in flag in 2006. “It’s just like every game, every play is a new challenge, and it’s addictive for a competitor, so I just fell in love with flag. I actually think I’m way better at flag than I was at basketball.”

She moved into the quarterback position through some sly maneuvering by current USA Women’s Flag Football head coach Chris Lankford. They were playing together in a local tournament when he “tricked” her into the QB position, despite Krouch knowing “zero football language.”

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“One day I showed up for a tournament and I asked, ‘All right, guys, who’s our quarterback?’ And he says, ‘We’re looking at her,’” she remembers. They kept the plays simple, and her team made it to the playoffs that season. Krouch has been a QB ever since.

Krouch joined the national team in 2016 and was inducted into the National Flag and Touch Football Hall Fame that same year. Last year at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, a 41-year-old Krouch set a new mark as the oldest Flag football player, man or woman, in the games, and she ranked second among women with 25 touchdown passes at the tournament where USA won silver.

She aims to bring that expertise to the field at the Pro Bowl games, where she’s looking forward to seeing NFL players take on the flag football style type of plays. “Flag is a very finesse, quick game, a lot of footwork, and these guys can’t grab or hold, no downfield contact or downfield block or anything off the line,” she explains. “So it’s going to be exciting just to see skill for skill, footwork for footwork, defense to offense, and to see flag football language with those type of elite athletes.”

As for the biggest challenge, Krouch believes it will be crafting a concise playbook and language that puts everyone on the same page. “A challenge for me is getting a coach’s mindset,” she adds, “I have to actually come up with plays ahead of time and I don’t usually have premeditated plays in my head. I just read it so for me to tell Kirk Cousins or Geno Smith [what to do], it will be different, you know?”

But beyond the Pro Bowl, Krouch is excited that flag is being considered for inclusion as an exhibition sport in the 2028 Summer Olympics. While she’s keeping a hopeful eye on that development, she’s also working to shape the next generation of potential athletes as a physical education teacher at La Villita Elementary in Irving, Texas.

RELATED: NFL still pushing for Olympic flag football with a chance ahead

“It’s an honor to be a role model – for other youth flag football players, for my students, both boys and girls,” says Krouch. “Then at my campus and in my community, it’s amazing to be able to break the barrier of like, ‘Asian women can’t do this.’ And then to be at my age, still doing this, I feel very lucky and blessed. …I think I still got some years in me.”

As for what she hopes viewers and fans walk away with after watching the Pro Bowl flag games this weekend, Krouch feels confident folks will walk away enlightened by the show.

“I just hope that they have fun with it,” says Krouch. “And for those who don’t know flag to be like, ‘Wow, that’s really amazing. Maybe that’s something I really can get my son or daughter into at a young age.’ So I just hope that they see that the sport is real – it’s not just something we play at recess. It’s a real thing now. I think they’ll see that the world loves it, the world can play it and is playing it.”

Be sure to check back with On Her Turf later this week when we catch up with AFC coordinator and Mexico Women’s National Flag Football Team quarterback Diana Flores.  

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