The race has been engaged for women’s ice hockey teams aiming for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Sun Valley’s Hilary Knight and the other 24 players on the U.S. National women’s hockey team kicked off their “Bring on the World Tour” against arch-rival Team Canada on Saturday, Oct. 12 at Burlington, Vt.
Team Canada built a 3-0 lead and won the first of six exhibition meetings between the two national teams by a score of 3-2.
It doesn’t happen often in women’s hockey, but a full-on line brawl erupted late in the third period when University of North Dakota product Jocelyne Lamoureux of Team USA bumped into Team Canada goalie Shannon Szabados—causing Canada’s Courtney Birchard from the University of New Hampshire to go after Lamoureux in the corner.
The third period was fully contested. Team USA’s Brianna Decker of Dousman, Wisc. and the University of Wisconsin and Gigi Marvin of Warroad, Minn. and the Univ. of Minnesota scored American goals to make the game close.
Team USA goaltender Brianne McLaughlin of Sheffield Village, Ohio and Robert Morris University stopped 26 shots, but defending Olympic champion Canada held on for the win.
“We came on as the game went on, but we want to start faster,” said Katey Stone, head coach of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team.
She added, “You can learn a lot in a loss, and you can learn a lot in a win. We just have to keep building and working hard. There are definitely positives you can take from a game like this, and the kids got the opportunity to play in a great building on a great stage.”
Canada jumped out to a 3-0 lead with two goals in the second period and one early in the third before the U.S. rallied in an effort to tie the score.
Team Canada's Caroline Ouellette opened the scoring 4:16 into the middle period when she was able to get a stick on a Jayna Hefford centering pass and direct it just past McLaughlin's right leg. Then, 90 seconds later, Bailey Bram scored to increase Canada's lead to 2-0. Tara Watchorn recorded the eventual game-winning goal early in the third period on a power play before Team USA started its comeback attempt.
Knight had three shots on the goal in Saturday’s game.
The U.S. will play Canada on Thursday, Oct. 17 in Montreal, Quebec, before resuming the “Bring on the World Tour” at the Four Nations Cup, held Nov. 5-9 in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Team USA winds up the “Bring on the World Tour” with televised Olympic exhibition games against Canada Friday, Dec. 20 at Grand Forks, N.D. and Saturday, Dec. 28 at Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minn.
For a complete Team USA schedule of games from October through December, visit bringontheworldtour.com.
Knight and the U.S. Women’s National Team are training together at The Edge Sports Center in Bedford. Mass., and participating in the Tour and various competitions in the build-up to next February’s Olympic Winter Games.
The final 2014 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team, which will include 18 forwards/defensemen and three goaltenders, will be announced during the second intermission of the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, scheduled for Jan. 1, 2014 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Knight, 24, a 5-11 forward, played four seasons for the University of Wisconsin from 2007-12 with 143 goals and 262 points in 161 collegiate games. Having played in the 2010 Winter Olympics, she is one of 12 Olympians among the 25 skaters trying out for the Olympics.
The Americans are the reigning IIHF women’s world champions, having beaten Team Canada 3-2 in the gold medal game in April at Ottawa, Canada. Team USA has won four of the last five world women’s ice hockey championships—Knight a member of all four of those title teams.