GANGNEUNG, South Korea – A bad bounce here, a few hit posts there and a couple of scrums after the whistle thrown in for good measure. Just your typical U.S. vs. Canada women’s hockey game.
This was not the game for all the marbles, fortunately, so there’s no need to hit the panic button just yet. There were plenty of positives to take away from today’s 2-1 loss in the final game of the preliminary round.
“It’s frustrating when nothing goes in, but I think we have to look back and see the chances that we created and feel good about it,” said U.S. forward Amanda Kessel.
U.S. outshot Canada 45-23, including 18-5 in the 2nd period
For the third straight game the U.S. outshot its opponent by a margin of 45-23, which led to a number of Grade A chances, a penalty shot in the second period and a flurry of goal-mouth scrambles, any one of which could have trickled over the goal line.
“We have to find a way to bury those. It’s as simple as that,” said Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, who missed her backhand attempt on a penalty shot after a Canadian defender covered up the puck in the crease.
“We did a lot of things well today and we’ll take the positives out of this game and fix some things that we can fix. We had opportunities to tie this game, we just need to find a way to get more than one puck in the net if we’re getting 45 shots on goal.”
But give Canadian goaltender Genevieve Lacasse credit, she was sharp in her Olympic debut, turning aside a barrage of great scoring chances and standing her ground when U.S. forwards continued to crash the net in search of rebounds.
For her part, Maddie Rooney was once against solid in goal for the U.S., surrendering a power-play goal to Meghan Agosta at the 7:18 mark of the second period, and Sarah Nurse’s short-side goal that she would like to have back.
A sense of urgency seemed to envelop the U.S. bench as they did everything humanly possible to score, outshooting the Canadians 18-5 in the middle frame. That pleased head coach Robb Stauber, who has been preaching the importance of getting more shots on goal and going hard to the net in search of rebounds.
“We had one hell of a performance tonight,” Stauber said. “We’re three games into this tournament and every game we’ve outshot our opponents by a 2-to-1 margin. … We expect a reward for our effort and our honesty and sticking to our game plan, which is getting pucks to the net. And that’s what we did.”
The Americans managed to cut the lead 23 seconds out of the intermission as Brianna Decker fought off the check of a Canadian defender in the neutral zone and fed a streaking Kendall Coyne, who found another gear to breeze past the defense and sneak a shot between Lacasse’s pads.
The U.S. never gave up until the final buzzer and had several chances in the waning moments to tie the game. First, Knight barely missed on a one-timer off a beautiful set up from Coyne, who seconds later saw the puck hop over her stick while staring at an open net. And then Decker rang one off the post, the fourth of the game for the U.S., in the final seconds. The game ended with a wild scramble in front of Lacasse who held her ground as time expired on another intense North American battle that showcased women’s hockey at its finest.
“We had a great number of shots but hats off to them; they played a great hockey game. Still, we have to finish those Grade A chances,” Coyne said.
“We’ll watch the films and see what we did well and see what we didn’t do well, but overall I thought we played a great game and a good 60 minutes. At the end of the day we’re going to see what we could do better.”
With four days to prepare for its next opponent, the U.S. is content to stay the course, knowing that the hockey gods will eventually smile on them for their consistent effort.
“It’s going to pay off,” Stauber said. “I think anybody who’s in hockey knows that if you keep doing that you’re going to get rewarded.”
|Sun., Feb 11||Finland||Preliminary||W, 3-1||Kwandong Hockey Centre||NBCSN
|Tues., Feb 13||Olympic Athletes From Russia||Preliminary||W, 5-0||Kwandong Hockey Centre||NBCSN
|Thurs., Feb. 15||Canada||Preliminary||L, 1-2||Kwandong Hockey Centre||NBCSN
|Mon., Feb. 19||Finland||Semifinals||W, 5-0||Gangneung Hockey Centre||NBCSN
|Thurs., Feb. 22||Canada||Gold-Medal Game||W, 3-2 (SO)||Gangneung Hockey Centre||NBCSN