PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Rebecca Johnston (Sudbury, Ont./Calgary, CWHL) scored a hat trick as Canada’s National Women’s Team erased a two-goal deficit to defeat the United States 5-3 in Game 1 of the December Series.
Jillian Saulnier (Halifax, N.S./Calgary, CWHL) and Natalie Spooner (Scarborough, Ont./Toronto, CWHL) also scored in the win.
Brianne Jenner (Oakville, Ont./Calgary, CWHL) added two assists.
Shannon Szabados (Edmonton, Alta./Fort Saskatchewan, CHL) made 32 saves in picking up the win in relief. Ann-Renée Desbiens (La Malbaie, Que./University of Wisconsin, WCHA) started in net for Canada, but was forced out of the crease only nine minutes into the game with an injury.
Canada trailed 3-2 after the second period, but two goals in 58 seconds to open the third turned the game in its favour.
Johnston put in a rebound at the side of the net 1:02 into the period, and Spooner scored with a wraparound at the two-minute mark.
If yet another Canadian comeback was one storyline, then the other was penalties. The teams were whistled for a combined 14 minors: 10 to the Canadians, four to the Americans.
Canada converted on its first power play chance, less than seven minutes into the game.
Halli Krzyzaniak (Neepawa, Man./University of North Dakota, WCHA) controlled the puck behind her own net and sent a pass up along the boards. Johnston skated in on a partial break and scored five-hole.
Canada was then called for six straight penalties in the first, and the U.S. made it pay twice. Hilary Knight scored with a shot from just inside the point to tie the game. The U.S. then took the lead late in the period when Brianna Decker was left alone at the side of the net to put in a rebound.
The U.S. lead grew to two 5:20 into the second; Decker scored her second goal of the game, this one with a one-timer from the slot.
Saulnier started the comeback four minutes later. She picked the puck off in the left circle and went high glove side for the unassisted goal.
The United States fired 12 more shots on net in the final period, and had two more power play opportunities, but couldn’t tie the game.
Johnston completed her hat trick with an empty-net goal late in the third.
The United States outshot Canada 37-22. Alex Rigsby took the loss in net.
The Series now shifts to Sarnia, Ont., for Game 2 (7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT). The teams will return to Plymouth at the end of March for the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship.
“I thought it was a really good game, I felt like I had my legs and our line was playing really well but I think as a whole our team really took it to them and had a lot of energy. We killed off a lot of penalties and I think that gave us energy and momentum when we were on the 5-on-5 and power play.
– Johnston on her hat track and Canada’s performance against the United States
“Every time we play them it’s such a hard fought battle and it’s always and exciting game, it’s back-to-back and it’s best-on-best competition. We were obviously really excited to be able to see some success [tonight] especially here in this building where worlds is going to be taking place.”
– Head coach Laura Schuler (Scarborough, Ont./Darmouth, ECAC) on the Canada vs. United States rivalry and its victory