CALGARY, Alta. – A late goal from Sarah Nurse (Hamilton, Ont./University of Wisconsin, WCHA) was the difference Friday as Canada’s National Women’s Development skated to a 4-3 win over the United States in the second of three games between the North American rivals.
Nurse scored the game-winner for the second time in as many games, clinching the series for the Canadians; it’s the first time since Canada has won the summer set since sweeping the U.S. in 2010.
Sarah Potomak (Aldergrove, B.C./University of Minnesota, WCHA) contributed a goal and an assist, and Rebecca Leslie (Ottawa, Ont./Boston University, HE) added two helpers for the Canadians.
Stephanie Neatby (Toronto, Ont./Princeton University, ECAC) and Shea Tiley (Shallow Lake, Ont./Princeton University, ECAC) combined to stop 26 shots in the victory.
Coming off a Game 1 loss, the Americans responded with early pressure and captain Annie Pankowski slipped a shot through Neatby just 4:16 into the contest.
“I think [the U.S.] came out a lot harder today,” captain Halli Krzynaniak (Neepawa, Man./University of North Dakota, WCHA) said post-game. “I don’t think they were expecting us to come out Wednesday as hard as we did. So they adjusted today and it took us five or 10 minutes to get going.”
The Canadians responded just 70 seconds later when Potomak jumped on a rebound and beat American goaltender Brittany Bugalski to tie the game 1-1.
Before the midway point of the period, a strong Canadian forecheck ended up with the puck on the stick of Jade Downie-Landry (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que./University of Vermont, HE), who danced around an American defender and slipped a backhand past Bugalski.
The United States took over for most of the second period, racking up 15 shots. Gracen Hirschy erased the Canadian lead just over five minutes into the middle frame, and Alex Woken wired a wrist shot by Neatby gave the Americans a 3-2 lead four minutes after that.
But Canada would pull even before the end of the period; off a scrambled face-off, Nurse drove to the net and Emily Clark (Saskatoon, Sask./University of Wisconsin,WCHA) knocked in a loose puck to send the game to the second intermission tied 3-3.
“I think it shows great character from our girls,” head coach Noemie Marin said of her team erasing a pair of American leads. “I felt it in the locker room between the second and the third that the girls wanted to come out and play strong. They did.”
In the third, Victoria Bach (Milton, Ont./Boston University, HE) streaked into the American zone before finding Nurse, who whipped a quick shot over the blocker of Bugalski from the slot for the winner.
With one game left, Marin said her team needs to be ready for a pushback from the Americans.
“We shouldn’t change anything. We should expect them to come hard at us tomorrow,” she said.
“I think it shows great character from our girls. I felt it in the locker room between the second and third that the girls wanted to come out and play strong, and they did.”
– Head coach Noémie Marin (Acton Vale, Que.) on coming back from a deficit twice in the game
“We knew before the game started that the U.S. was going to come out a lot stronger than they did the first game. I think we battled hard and we kept going through, but there were times where we went a little high and little low, but overall I think we kept bouncing back with them and we ended up on top.”
– Potomak on the see-saw battle in the game
“I think we’ve had some tough games, and for us to come out strong right off the hop here and take two games definitely feels good. These have been fun games to play so it’s been awesome. [The U.S.] challenged us a bit at the start; they may have been surprised by our speed last game, and so they came out hard and were a step ahead of us at the start. We rallied back after that first goal and carried that through to the third period.”
– Micah Hart (Saanichton, B.C./Cornell University, ECAC) on winning the series
The series finishes Saturday 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.