CALGARY, Alta. – Daryl Watts (Toronto, Ont./Mississauga, PWHL) tipped in an Olivia Knowles (Campbell River, B.C./Okanagan Hockey Academy, CSSHL) point shot with three minutes to go, giving Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team a 3-2 win over the United States in the opener of a three-game series Thursday night.
It’s the fifth year in a row the Canadians have started the summer series with a win.
“I think [this win] is big just for confidence,” Canadian head coach Troy Ryan said. “This whole process with this [selection] camp and the series is long so for them, [so] to get a little bit of a reward is huge for their confidence.”
Just five seconds into the Canadians’ third power play of the third period, Watts parked herself in the high slot and got just enough of Knowles’ shot to redirect it by U.S. goaltender Alex Gulstene.
Amy Potomak (Aldergrove, B.C./Pacific, JWHL) had the other two goals for Canada, which opened a two-goal lead early in the second period before the Americans battled back to draw even.
The Canadians wasted little time opening the scoring; after Sophie Shirley (Saskatoon, Sask./Okanagan Hockey Academy, CSSHL) made a slick move in front but lost control, Potomak jumped all over the loose puck to roof a backhand past Gulstene less than seven minutes in.
“It was pretty important that we jumped on them quick and it kind of got the team rolling,” Potomak said. “Our goal was to get as many shifts as we can, keep it simple, get in their zone early to set things up and we ended up getting a goal right off the bat.”
Potomak added a second goal 4:16 into the second period, taking a pass from Emma Buckles (Toronto, Ont./Toronto, PWHL) before splitting the American defence and slipping a shot through Gulstene.
But Grace Zumwinkle made good on an American power play nine minutes later, hammering a one-timer past Canadian netminder Edith D’Astous-Moreau (Laval, Que./Nepean, PWHL), and she forced a turnover deep in the Canadian zone before beating D’Astous-Moreau just 76 seconds into the third period to tie the game.
Penalty trouble doomed the U.S. in the third; the Americans took four minors in the final 20 minutes, all after Zumwinkle had tied the game. Canada finished 1-for-4 with the man advantage, while the U.S. was 1-for-2.
The teams are back in action Friday night (7 p.m. MT) for the middle game of the three-game set, before the series wraps up with an early start Sunday morning (10 a.m. MT).
“It was pretty important that we jumped on them quick and it kind of got the team rolling. Our goal was to get as many shifts as we can, keep it simple, get in their zone early to set things up and we ended up getting a goal right off the bat.”
– Potomak on netting Canada’s first goal of the series
“Potty [Amy Potomak] had a great face-off win and then Shirley picked up it and made a great pass to Knowles on the point who took a great shot and I just happened to be in the right spot and put a good tip on it that went in the net.”
– Watts on her game-winning goal late in the third period
“I was very excited and it was a huge honour and a privilege to be named captain for this series. We have a great leadership team and there’s so many girls that could have been picked and I’m very excited to have them with me.”
– Bell on what it means to her to be named captain of the under-18 team
“I think [this win] it’s big just for confidence, this whole process with this camp and the series is long so for them to get a little bit of a reward is huge for their confidence.”
– Head coach Troy Ryan (Spryfield, N.S.) on the importance of the team earning the early victory