The United States Under-18 Women's National Team opened preliminary round play Sunday night at the 2019 IIHF Under-18 Women's World Championship with a 3-2 victory over Russia at Obihiro Forest Ice Arena.
"We’re really happy to get our first win of the tournament tonight against a quality opponent like Russia," said Maura Crowell (Mansfield, Mass.), head coach of the 2019 U.S. Under-18 Women's National Team. "It’s really important to get a win in the opening game and I think tonight is a good boost to the confidence in our locker room as we move ahead in the tournament."
Team USA (1-0-0-0/W-OTW-OTL-L) continues preliminary round play on Monday (Jan. 7) against Canada at 5 p.m. local time/3 a.m. ET. A live stream will be provided on IIHF.com.
Makenna Webster (St. Louis, Mo.) got things rolling for the U.S. just 4:55 into the contest after a Russian penalty for hooking sent Team USA to its first power play of the tournament. Webster positioned herself in the high slot before taking a pass from Hannah Bilka (Coppell, Texas) and firing a backhander past the Russian goaltender.
Russia would answer quickly, scoring just 1:03 later when a contested puck found its way across the crease and was fired past Skylar Vetter (Lakeville, Minn.) to knot the game at one.
The teams would trade power play opportunities, but neither team could find the back of the net and the period ended with the score tied.
The U.S. came out fast in the second period, scoring two goals just 2:42 apart to take a 3-1 lead.
Casey O'Brien (Milton, Mass.) scored the second goal of the game for the U.S. just 2:51 into the second frame. Webster picked up a loose puck in front of the net and skated behind the Russian goal before feeding the puck to O'Brien, who was waiting on the back door. O'Brien fired a one-timer that rose over the goaltender's blocker to give the U.S. a 2-1 lead.
Following O'Brien's goal, Maggie Nicholson (Minnetonka, Minn.) fired a shot from the point that was deflected on goal by Lacey Eden (Annapolis, Md.). After the goaltender made the initial save, Sydney Shearen (Hugo, Minn.) was waiting on the doorstep to fire the rebound into the open net and give the U.S. a 3-1 lead.
The Russians would answer once again with 3:01 remaining in the period to bring the score to 3-2 before the end of the second stanza.
The third period was filled with back-and-forth action with both goaltenders making key saves for their teams. Neither squad could find the back of the net before time expired, as Team USA captured its first victory of the tournament, 3-2.
NOTES: Bilka was tabbed U.S. Player of the Game ... The U.S. outshot Russia, 38-21, went 1-for-7 on the powerplay and 6-for-7 on the penalty kill. For complete game statistics, click here ... Team USA, the four-time reigning world champion, captured gold in each of the first two years of the tournament (2008, 2009) and again in 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. The team has taken home the silver medal in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 ... Crowell is joined by assistant coaches Josh Sciba (Westland, Mich./Union College) and 2018 Olympic gold medalist Brianna Decker (Dousman, Wis.) ... USA Hockey’s international council, chaired by Gavin Regan (Potsdam, N.Y.), vice president of USA Hockey, has oversight responsibilities for all U.S. national teams ... IIHF.com is the streaming home of the 2019 Under-18 Women's World Championship ... For more information about the tournament, click here.
|Date||Opponent||Time (Local/ET)/RESULT||VENUE||LOCATION||Stream/U.S. Player Of The Game|
|Sun., Jan. 6||Russia
|W, 3-2||Obihiro Forest Ice Arena||Obihiro, Japan||Hannah Bilka|
|Mon., Jan. 7||Canada
|W, 3-2||Obihiro Forest Ice Arena||Obihiro, Japan||Abbey Murphy|
|Wed., Jan. 9||Sweden
|W, 2-0||Obihiro Forest Ice Arena||Obihiro, Japan||Skylar Vetter|
|Sat., Jan. 12||Finland
|W, 7-1||Obihiro Forest Ice Arena||Obihiro, Japan||Katy Knoll|
|Sun., Jan. 13||Canada
|L, 2-3 OT||Obihiro Forest Ice Arena||Obihiro, Japan||Makenna Webster|