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Rivalry Renewed: U.S. Women Eager to Play Canada

10/20/2017, 8:30pm EDT
By Todd Kortemeier

Team USA kicks off The Time is Now Tour with biggest rival

The U.S. Women's National Team has a mantra of one game at a time but there are some games that loom larger on the calendar than others.

Those big games are without question the matchups against Canada. As fans, players and coaches will attest the energy of a game between the North American rivals is never low.

“I think just even bringing it up puts a little fire in all of us, just even talking about it,” said defenseman Monique Lamoureux-Morando, a veteran of seven IIHF Women’s World Championships and two Olympic gold-medal games, all contested against Canada.

She understands the ins and outs of the rivalry as well as anyone.

“Since [1998] when women’s hockey started in the Olympics, every world championship and Olympic Games has been decided between the U.S. or Canada except for one of those years [the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in which Canada faced Sweden],” Lamoureux-Morando said. “So I think you’d be hard pressed to find a rivalry in any sport, men, women, individual, team sport, whatever it is, that has had a longstanding rivalry like we have with Canada.”

While the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, and another potential meeting with Canada, await in February, Team USA’s eyes are currently fixed on The Time is Now Tour, presented by Toyota. The U.S. Women’s National Team will embark on a cross-country series of exhibition contests against Canada, kicking off in Boston on Wednesday night. But before they have a chance to take the ice in the U.S. as part of The Time is Now Tour, the USWNT will travel to Quebec City for its first road game against Canada this Sunday.

The chance to renew the rivalry has the Americans excited.

“I can’t wait to play them,” said forward Amanda Kessel. “You don’t take those games for granted, and I wish we could have more of them, I’d play them every weekend if we could.”

Given the dominance of both countries in women’s hockey — each has 18 total world championship medals, as many as all other countries combined — there is a mixture of respect and animosity that the teams feel.

“I think it’s a little bit of [every emotion],” Kessel said. “This summer my brother Blake got married and he married a Canadian hockey player [defenseman Courtney Birchard]. She had just retired, but she was on the national team for quite a while so a lot of the Canadian girls were at her wedding. We were cordial there. Since the season hadn’t started it was okay, but now, I don’t know if I’d say much more than hi.”

While the U.S. and Canada have played dozens of high-profile games against each other, the rivalry reached new heights at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. With Team USA leading 2-0 in the gold-medal game, Canada struck back with two goals in the final four minutes of regulation before winning gold in overtime.

“It was raw emotion,” said forward Hillary Knight. “Like we were getting our medals and it’s right after [the game]… I was like, did this really just happen? One goal goes off someone’s pants, and another goal goes in however, and then the other goal’s on an [odd-man rush], you can’t write a more perfect story for the other side. I was done, I was heartbroken, I remember going back in the village that night and writing this really long letter to my mom because I was just so disappointed.”

Knight got some measure of revenge for Team USA in 2017, scoring the game-winner against Canada in overtime of the IIHF Women’s World Championship final. But the memories from 2014 still loom large.

“That loss has really inspired us to search real deep and come up with a plan that we feel even better about,” said head coach Robb Stauber.

And now Team USA gets another chance to see how they measure up against the best in the world, starting with their biggest rival. The road to a gold medal in PyeongChang continues this weekend with the U.S.’s first international exhibition games of the season.

“When we train day-in, day-out, we picture playing in the gold-medal game and it being against them,” Lamoureux-Morando said. “Obviously we have to take care of business and do everything to get to that gold-medal game, but in order to be the best, you want to go through all the best competition in order to get there.

“I’m fired up right now just talking about it.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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2017-18 USWNT Schedule

Date Opponent Time (Local/ET) Venue Location Broadcast/Stream Tickets
Sun., Oct. 22 Canada 2 p.m. Centre Videotron Quebec City, Que. NHL Network
Wed., Oct. 25 Canada* 7:30 p.m. Agganis Arena Boston, Mass. NHL Network Ticketmaster.com
Tues., Nov. 7 Finland
Four Nations Cup*
7 p.m. Florida Hospital Center Ice Wesley Chapel, Fla. HockeyTV All tickets sold at the door on the day of the game
Wed., Nov. 8 Canada
Four Nations Cup*
7 p.m. Florida Hospital Center Ice Wesley Chapel, Fla. HockeyTV All tickets sold at the door on the day of the game
Fri., Nov. 10 Sweden
Four Nations Cup*
6:30 p.m. Florida Hospital Center Ice Wesley Chapel, Fla. HockeyTV All tickets sold at the door on the day of the game
Sun., Nov. 12 Third-Place Game & Championship Game
Four Nations Cup*
12 & 3:30 p.m. AMALIE Arena Tampa, Fla. HockeyTV AMALIE Arena Ticket Office
Ticketmaster.com
Via phone: 800-745-3000
Sun., Dec. 3 Canada* 3 p.m./4 p.m. Xcel Energy Center St. Paul, Minn. NBCSN
Live Stream: NBC Sports App
Xcel Energy Center Box Office
Ticketmaster.com
Via phone: 800-745-3000
Tues., Dec. 5 Canada 7 p.m./8 p.m. Bell MTS Place Winnipeg, Man. NHL Network
Fri., Dec. 15 Canada* 7:00 p.m./10:00 p.m. SAP Center San Jose, Calif. NBCSN
Live Stream: NBC Sports App
ThreatMetrix Ticket Office at SAP Center
Ticketmaster.com
Via phone: 800-745-3000
Sun., Dec. 17 Canada 5 p.m./7 p.m. Rogers Place Edmonton, Alta. NHL Network


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Tag(s): Women's