CALGARY, Alta. – Victoria Bach (Milton, Ont./Boston University, HE) opened the scoring and set up the game-winner, leading the way as Canada’s National Women’s Development Team opened its three-game series against the United States with a 2-1 win Wednesday night.

    It’s the first time the Canadians have started the annual summer series with a victory in almost six years, since a 4-1 triumph over the U.S. in Toronto on Aug. 18, 2010.

    Sarah Nurse (Hamilton, Ont./University of Wisconsin, WCHA) had the winner for the Canadians, while goaltender Erica Howe (Orleans, Ont./Brampton, CWHL) made 23 saves.

    Canada got into penalty trouble early, handing the U.S. a five-on-three power play less than five minutes in. But Howe shut the door to kill the 97-second advantage.

    “Our girls worked hard and were very aggressive,” Canadian head coach Noémie Marin said of her team’s start. “It happens sometimes with the limit between being too aggressive and just enough.”

    Canada appeared to have opened the scoring late in the first period, but the officials waved off the goal after a meeting at centre ice and the game went to the first intermission scoreless.

    A Canadian power play got things going in the second period; Kaitlin Tse (Toronto, Ont./Harvard University, ECAC) found Bach at the side of the net, and her quick shot beat American goaltender Kaitlin Burt to the near post for a 1-0 lead at 8:03.

    Bach said the penalty kill spurred Canada and created the opportunity for the game’s first lead.

    “We built off of that. Howie made some amazing saves,” she said. “Our penalty kill with blocking shots … doing the little things right. I think that’s what gave us momentum and got us those first goals.”

    In the final minute of the middle frame, Bach came off the boards at the face-off dot and threw the puck in front for Nurse, who kicked it up to her stick and slipped it past Burt, giving Canada a 2-0 lead.

    Sydney Daniels got the Americans on the board early in the third, sneaking behind the Canadian defence and beating Howe on the breakaway to cut Canada’s lead to 2-1, but Howe stood tall late to allow her team to hold on for the victory.

    “The girls have been prepared,” Marin said. “We’ve got to reset now, go back and get ready for our next game.”

    The series continues Friday at the Markin MacPhail Centre at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park, with the puck set to drop at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT in the middle game of the three-game set.

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