Wins are certainly paramount when it comes to the U.S. Women’s National Team.
But overall team development also holds significance as the Americans near the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, China.
The U.S. continues the My Why Tour, presented by Toyota, against Canada, 5 p.m. ET Sunday at Leon’s Centre in Kingston, Ontario. The rivals will square off again two days later, 7 p.m. ET Tuesday at TD Place Arena in Ottawa, Ontario for their fourth game in about a month. Additional tour stops are currently planned for St. Louis, Mo. on Dec. 15 and 17, and Saint Paul, Minn. on Dec. 20. Tickets for those games are on sale now at MyWhyTour.com. The team closes out the tour in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta in early January.
“We don’t take these games lightly,” goaltender Alex Cavallini (Delafield, Wis.) said. “We don’t want to lose. We want to win. It’s pretty simple. It’s such an important thing, too, to focus on ourselves and the team and what we need to do to be our best come February when it matters the most.”
The U.S. closed out the 2019-2020 Rivalry Series on Feb. 8, 2020 with a 4-3 victory against Canada at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Since that game, the Americans have lost four straight against their biggest rival.
Canada beat the U.S., 5-1, during the preliminary round of the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championships and then claimed gold at the event five days later with a 3-2 win. Canada also beat the U.S. during the first two stops of the My Why Tour last month.
“Given our past few games against Canada, I think we also have a lot to prove,” goaltender Maddie Rooney (Andover, Minn.) said. “I know we’re ready and excited for it.”
A pair of third-period goals, including a late empty-netter, helped Canada defeat the U.S., 3-1, during the first game of the My Why Tour on Oct. 22 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The U.S. outshot Canada 29-19 during that game. Cavallini stopped 16 of 18 shots and Hayley Scamurra (Getzville, N.Y.) scored the lone U.S. goal.
Canada scored on its first two shots during the second game of the tour, played Oct. 25 in Hartford, Connecticut. The U.S. settled in and tied the game on goals by Amanda Kessel (Madison, Wis.) and Cayla Barnes (Eastvale, Calif.), but Canada’s Sarah Fillier scored the eventual winner with a third-period power-play marker. Nicole Hensley (Lakewood, Colo.) stopped 17 of 20 shots on goal.
“I think every time we’ve played them, we’ve grown a little bit,” Hensley said. “We’re getting better and better every day. We’re working towards the things we need to get better, and the things we know are going to be important in February.”
Team USA captured a historic gold medal with a win against Canada at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. The U.S. won its first Olympic gold medal in 20 years with the game-tying goal in the third period and a championship-clinching victory in a shootout.
This year’s group realizes there’s still a long way to go until the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
“I think it’s always tough when you’re walking away from the game with a loss, but we’ve also learned a lot from these two games we played so far,” Cavallini said. “It’s going to help us when we face adversity whenever that may be in the future or in February.”
Up next this week are a pair of games away from home, as the U.S. meets Canada on its home ice.
“I think it’s always exciting to go up there and play them, especially since it’s the first time they’ll have had a crowd in a while,” Hensley said. “I think it’s definitely something we always look forward to. There’s always a ton of energy in the building.”
The U.S. is also looking forward to snapping its recent skid against its biggest rival.
“I think you always want to win every time you put the jersey on,” Hensley said. “You wouldn’t be on the team if you didn’t want to. There are things you can take away and improve on if it’s not the outcome you want. But at the end of the day, when you step on the ice, it’s Canada and you want to beat them.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.