2022-23 Rivalry Series: Canada sets up winner-takes-all Game 7 vs. USA

Hilary Knight #21 of Team United States is defended by Jocelyne Larocque #3 and Marie-Philip Poulin #29 of Team Canada
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If you like a “Game 7,” then you’re in for a treat Wednesday evening when the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team faces off against Team Canada in the winner-takes-all finale of the 2022-23 Rivalry Series.

After opening with victories in the first three games of the seven-game series, Canada bounced back with three consecutive wins of its own, including a 5-1 rout Monday evening at the sold-out Colisee Videotron in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. The decisive Game 7 is set for 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Place Bell in Laval, Quebec.

“I guess for theatrics, it does play out quite nicely,” said U.S. head coach John Wroblewski following Monday night’s loss. “We’ll hopefully be ready to display that desperation that’s necessary for Game 7, and each player will be well versed, that, you know, there’s hardware to lift afterwards. It’s been a heck of a series.”

Monday night’s game marked several milestones for the Canadians, who kicked the night off with a pre-game ceremony honoring veteran team captain Marie-Philip Poulin for winning the Northern Star Award as the Canadian athlete of the year and Canadian Press Female Athlete of the Year. The 31-year-old added another feather to her cap at the end of the contest, scoring Canada’s final goal with 1:05 remaining and recording the 200th point of her international career. She is the fifth player to reach the milestone with Team Canada.

RELATED: Canada notches 5-1 win over U.S. to tie 2022-23 Rivalry Series, Marie-Philip Poulin reaches career milestone

“It’s hard to put it all into words,” Poulin said afterward. “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. 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 … that really means a lot.”

Also reaching a notable scoring record was forward Sarah Nurse, who opened the scoring Monday night on a power play goal just 3:06 into the first period, notching her 50th point with Canada’s national team.

Canadian forward Brianne Jenner led the offence with an goal and two assists, while Laura Stacey and Claire Thompson rounded out the scoring with a goal apiece. Rebecca Johnston returned to Canada’s lineup for the first time since the winning gold at the Olympics last February and contributed two assists. The Ontario native came in hot off her play in the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) this season, where she leads the Dream Gap Tour in scoring with 17 points (9 goals, 8 assists) in 11 games.

“Emotionally it was a big win because we haven’t had a win at home in a while,” said Johntson, who scored an empty netter with 3:32 left in the third. “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.”

After going scoreless in the first two frames, the U.S. rallied to cut the lead in half with 11:24 remaining. Kelly Pannek scored her first goal of the series, with Hilary Knight and Megan Keller getting the assist. But just two minutes later, Canada regained its two-goal lead off a goal from Thompson.

Regarding the quick turnaround for the series finale, Wroblewski was positive about the U.S. team’s outlook going into Wednesday.

“I thought each one of our players showed signs — despite a lack of experience in these types of situations — of being able to excel,” he said. “We just need to string them together a little more consistently. And if each player can pop one or two more plays, and then make one or two less mistakes, we’ll be in great shape after Wednesday night’s game. That’s our task and our aim going into the next contest.”

Canada’s head coach Troy Ryan also expressed his satisfaction at the rally from three games down to a series tie, noting his team’s “new style of play.”

“I think the part I really like is merging the styles from our offense of 2021 to the Olympics combined with the physical and defensive frame of mind from [the 2022 Women’s Worlds],” said Ryan. “I thought we played physical when we needed to, we were wide open when we needed to and defended well when we needed to. Merging those styles is great and if that becomes our new style of play, we can play any type of game at any time.”

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More about Game 6 of the 2022-23 Rivalry Series:

  • Canada’s Ann-Renee Desbiens recorded 14 saves in net for the win, while U.S. netminder Aerin Frankel recorded 25 saves.
  • Canada outshot Team USA, 32-15.
  • Team USA was 0-for-1 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill; Canada was 1-for-3 on the power play.

2022-23 Rivalry Series schedule & results

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
Monday, Feb. 20 CAN 5, USA 1 Quebec, Canada NHL Network
Wednesday, Feb. 22 TBD Quebec, Canada NHL Network

More about Team USA’s roster for February Rivalry Series games

  • Five players are making their U.S. Women’s National Team debut during February’s Rivalry Series games: Emily Brown, Skylar Fontaine, Liz Schepers, Tatum Skaggs and Natalie Snodgrass.
  • Returning to the lineup are Clair DeGeorge and Becca Gilmore, who both skated in November’s Rivalry Series games.
  • Notably absent from U.S. roster for the February games is veteran captain Kendall Coyne Schofield, who’s injured and will not participate. She had a goal and three assists in the first five games of the Rivalry Series.
  • The roster features 14 players with Olympic experience: Hannah BrandtAlex CarpenterJincy DunneKali FlanaganSavannah HarmonNicole HensleyMegan KellerAmanda KesselHilary KnightKelly PannekAbby RoqueHayley ScamurraMaddie Rooney and Lee Stecklein.

More about U.S.-Canada women’s hockey rivalry

  • Following Monday’s loss, the U.S. holds a 6-2-2-4 (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.
  • Monday marked meeting No. 173 between the U.S. and Canadian women’s national teams, the 71st on Canadian ice and the seventh in Quebec. Canada holds an all-time edge in the overall (98-74-1) and in games played in Canada (41-30).
  • 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.

2023 LPGA Drive On Championship: How to watch, who’s playing in season’s first full-field event

Jin-young Ko of South Korea and Nelly Korda on the 17th tee during the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship.
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The LPGA Tour makes its return to the Arizona desert this week at the 2023 LPGA Drive On Championship at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club. The season’s first full-field event features eight of the world’s top 10 players plus a slew of fresh faces as this year’s rookie class gets its first taste of competition as tour members.

This week’s event features 144 players (plus two Monday qualifiers) competing for the $1.75 million prize purse in a 72-hole tournament that will implement the LPGA’s new cutline policy for the first time. Beginning this week, the 36-hole cut will change from the top 70 players and ties to the top 65 and ties advancing to weekend action. The LPGA says it hopes to “establish a faster pace of play” with the change.”

Arizona last hosted the LPGA for the 2019 Bank of Hope Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club, where Jin Young Ko earned her first of four LPGA titles that season. The tour last played at Superstition Mountain in the Safeway International from 2004 to 2008, where Hall of Famers Annika Sorenstam (2004, 2005) and Lorena Ochoa (2007, 2008) each won twice, and Juli Inkster won in 2006.

The tournament marks the first of four events over the next five weeks (taking off the week of the Masters, April 7-10) and kicks off the crescendo that’s building to the LPGA’s first major of the season, The Chevron Championship, April 20-23 in its new location at The Woodlands, Texas. The 72-hole LPGA Drive On Championship features 144 players, in addition to two Monday qualifiers, who will compete for a $1.75 million purse.

How to watch the 2023 LPGA Drive On Championship

You can watch the 2023 LPGA Drive On Championship on Golf Channel, Peacock, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Check out the complete TV and streaming schedule:

  • Thursday, March 23: 9-11 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Friday, March 24: 9-11 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Saturday, March 25: 6-10 p.m. ET, live stream; 7-9 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Sunday, March 26: 6-10 p.m. ET, live stream; 7-9 p.m. ET, Golf Channel

Who’s playing in the 2023 LPGA Drive On Championship

Sitting out this week are world No. 1 Lydia Ko and No. 5 Minjee Lee, but No. 2 Nelly Korda and No. 3 Jin Young Ko are back in action following Ko’s return to the winner’s circle two weeks ago in Singapore, where she held off Korda by two strokes. Also in the field this week are:

  • No. 4 Atthaya Thitikul
  • No. 6 Lexi Thompson
  • No. 7 Brooke Henderson
  • No. 8 In Gee Chun
  • No. 9 Hyo-Joo Kim
  • No. 10 Nasa Hataoka
  • 2022 major winners Ashleigh Buhai, Jennifer Kupcho, Chun, Henderson

Rookies and Epson Tour graduates making their first starts as LPGA members include 20-year-old Lucy Li, a two-time Epson Tour winner who might be best known for playing the 2014 U.S.  Women’s Open as an 11-year-old; South Korea’s Hae Ran Ryu, who took medalist honors at LPGA Q-Series; and 18-year-old Alexa Pano, who finished tied for 21st at Q School to earn her card but might be best known from her role in the 2013 Netflix documentary, “The Short Game.”

Past winners, history of the Drive On Championship

The Drive On Championship was initially created as a series of LPGA events that marked the tour’s back-to-competition efforts following the pandemic. Each tournament used the “Drive On” slogan in support of the tour’s resilience, beginning with the first series event in July 2020 at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, where Danielle Kang won by one stroke over Celine Boutier. The second event, held in October 2020, replaced the three stops originally scheduled in Asia, and was held at Reynolds Lake Oconee Great Waters Course in Greensboro, Georgia. Ally McDonald captured her career first LPGA title by one stroke over Kang.

The last two “Drive On” events were staged in Florida, at Golden Ocala Golf Club (Ocala) in March 2021 and at Crown Colony Golf Club (Fort Myers) in February 2022. Austin Ernst cruised to her third career title at the 2021 edition, beating Jennifer Kupcho by five shots. The 2022 tournament marked a fresh start for the event (no longer including results or records from the 2020 and 2021 events), where Leona Maguire became the first Irish winner on tour with her victory in 2022.

Last year at the Drive On Championship

Ireland’s Leona Maguire gifted her mom and early birthday present with her first career win at the 2022 LPGA Drive On Championship. A 27-year-old Maguire, a standout at Duke and former No. 1 amateur, carded a final-round 67 to finish at 18-under 198 and won the 54-hole event by three strokes over Lexi Thompson. She became the first woman from Ireland to win on tour, and her 198 tied her career-best 54-hole score.

More about Superstition Mountain

Superstition Mountain’s Prospector Golf Course opened in 1998 and was a combined design effort by Jack Nicklaus and his son Gary. The course plays as a par-72 and stretches to 7,225 yards in length, with the women playing it at 6,526 yards. The course was home of the LPGA Safeway International from 2004-08, and was recently selected by Golfweek as one of the “Top 100 Residential Courses.”

Of note, Superstition Mountain is a female-owned facility, originally purchased in 2009 by Susan Hladky and her husband James, who died in 2011. Hladky has made a point of opening her courses to women and college players, twice hosting U.S. Women’s Open qualifying and the site of a 2025 NCAA women’s regional tournament. She’s also given membership to eight LPGA players, who play out of the club: Carlota Ciganda, Mina Harigae, Dana Finkelstein, Jaclyn Lee, Charlotte Thomas, Caroline Inglis, Jennifer Kupcho and Brianna Do.

MORE FROM ON HER TURF: 2023 March Madness — Utah Utes engineer dramatic turnaround for third-ever Sweet 16 appearance

2023 March Madness: Utah Utes engineer dramatic turnaround for third-ever Sweet 16 appearance

Members of the Utah Utes celebrate their win over the Princeton Tigers in the second round of the NCAA Womens Basketball Tournament.
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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The No. 2-seeded Utah (27-4) women’s basketball team held off a pesky 10th-seeded Princeton squad on Sunday, winning 63-56 to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championships for the first time since 2005-06 and just the third time in the program’s history.

“I’m proud of our team,” said eighth-year head coach Lynne Roberts after the second-round win at Utah’s Hunstman Center. “We set out to do this a year ago. We lost in this game at University of Texas and the goal was to be able to host (this year) so that we could have that home-court advantage and it made a difference.”

Utah’s fourth-year junior Alissa Pili backed up her recent second-team All-American honor with another 20-plus-point performance, scoring 28 on 8-for 13 shooting with 10 rebounds and going 11-for 13 on free throws. Sophomore forward Jenna Johnson added 15 points and six rebounds.

There’s been a lot of talk this weekend about how the Utes’ previous few seasons have ended – beginning with a rough 14-17 season that was cut short in 2020 due to the pandemic, followed by an abysmal 5-16 record in 2020-21. But the tide turned last year, as Utah rebounded with a 21-12 season that ended with a 78-56 loss to Texas in Austin in the second round of the NCAA tournament one year ago.

So, what changed?

“Last year, everyone was new to the NCAA tournament, so I think everyone was just experiencing it for the first time,” mused Johnson. “Losing in the second round last year, we’re definitely a lot hungrier this year, and then obviously hosting in Salt Lake, it’s fun just being in your own environment, to be around your own fans. I think it gives us an elevated level of confidence, both knowing what it’s like to play in this tournament and also getting to be at home.”

“Yeah, freshman year was kind of rough,” added third-year sophomore Kennady McQueen, who chipped in nine points Sunday. “We did experience losing a lot. … Coach Roberts, she said we are not going to have another season like that. We all stood behind her — the people that stayed — and brought in great people like starting last year with Jenna and Gi (Gianna Kneepkens) and people like that who have had a huge impact in helping us to where we are today. …

“When you get together a group of people that have the same goal in mind and will do make anything to make it happen, I think that’s where we have seen our success rate going up. This past offseason, we just kept getting better, and of course, the addition of the Alissa Pili really helped. When you bring a group of girls that have the same dream and same goal at the end of the year and doesn’t care about personal stats more than winning, I think we get the season that we have today, and it prepares us for deep run in March.”

In particular, McQueen believe it was Utah’s improvement in their defense that was crucial to the turnaround. “Everyone knows how good we are on offense, but if we can’t get stops, it doesn’t matter how good you are on offense,” she said. “So that’s just been a key the whole past off-season and all of this season — just getting better on defense.”

MORE FROM ON HER TURF: Alissa Pili revives her love of basketball with record season at Utah

Roberts credits their defensive improvement with a “philosophical mindset change,” explaining, “We worked on [defense] a lot differently, a lot more intentionally. Strategically we made some changes of how we are going to defend, and I won’t bore you with that. But there was a lot, just different things because you have to play to your strengths. You can’t be a run-and-jump pressing team if you don’t have the depth and athletes to do it. You can’t be a zone team if you are not super big. You have to figure out what fits your personnel, and so that’s what we did.”

There’s also the undeniable impact of Pili, a transfer from USC who has found her stride as a Ute, where she recently was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year.

“She kind of is the straw that stirs the drink for us right now,” Roberts said regarding the 21-year-old Alaska native. “She’s a nightmare to defend because she can shoot the three, and she’s also really athletic and mobile, so it doesn’t matter who we are playing. I think you have to gameplan for her. But then with her three-point shooting, you know, you have to pick your poison.”

But Roberts also gave plenty of kudos to Johnson, whom she describes as “phenomenal.”

“She’s 19 going on 40,” Roberts said of Johnson. “She’s the most mature, even-keeled consistent player we have. What I love about her is she is who she is. She’s confident in who she is. She knows who she is. She also is incredibly busy off the court.

“We were talking as we were getting ready to watch film, just shooting the breeze a bunch of us, we were talking about movies. And she was like, Oh, I don’t watch movies. Why not? I don’t have time. I get bored. What do you mean you don’t have time? Do you watch shows? No, I don’t ever watch TV. It is because she is doing all of these other extracurricular activities.”

As for guiding the Utes to becoming a championship program, Roberts still sees it as an uphill battle – but one that she and her players are ready for.

“I always use the analogy of pushing the boulder up the hill,” she said. “And doing things for the first time, you have to have that mindset. You have to keep pushing. It’s been incredibly fun to see the support, and I think the swell is a perfect word for it. Most importantly, our players feel it.

“This is why you play, right? And it means so much. I know I say it over and over, but this is not going to be a flash-in-the-pan [season]. This isn’t going to be a ‘Oh, remember that year they had such an incredible year?’ We are going to keep doing it.”

RELATED: 2023 March Madness 2023 — Updated bracket, scores and schedule for NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship