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.
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“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 Brandt, Alex Carpenter, Jincy Dunne, Kali Flanagan, Savannah Harmon, Nicole Hensley, Megan Keller, Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, Kelly Pannek, Abby Roque, Hayley Scamurra, Maddie 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.