PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Shannon Szabados (Edmonton, Alta./Fort Saskatchewan, CHL) returned to the IIHF Women’s World Championship with a 28-save performance, but Canada’s National Women’s Team couldn’t find a goal in a tournament-opening 2-0 loss to the United States on Friday night.
The Canadians have dropped six in a row to the U.S. at women’s worlds, dating back to a shootout win in the preliminary round in 2013, and haven’t scored a goal against the Americans in more than 152 minutes.
Szabados, who made her first appearance at the tournament since 2013, was the story early and often, keeping the Canadians in the game as they struggled to produce offence through the first two periods.
The U.S. held a 12-5 advantage in shots on goal in the first period, and had a 21-8 edge through 40 minutes.
While Canada managed just three shots in the second period, it was two chances that didn’t register that were their best; captain Marie-Philip Poulin (Beauceville, Que./Montreal, CWHL) hit the post early in the period, before Meghan Agosta (Ruthven, Ont.) rang a backhand off the iron just minutes later.
With the second intermission approaching, the U.S. finally found a way past Szabados; Megan Bozek carried the puck into the Canadian zone and circled the net before swinging a cross-crease pass onto the stick of Brianna Decker, who made it 1-0 with a tap-in at 17:54.
Gigi Marvin doubled the American advantage less than five minutes into the third, letting go a wrist shot from the point that deflected off Poulin and eluded Szabados for a 2-0 lead.
Canada pressed in the final stanza, directing 10 shots at U.S. goaltender Nicole Hensley, but couldn’t find the scoreboard. The Americans outshot the Canadians 30-18 overall.
Despite the game being a physical affair – as Canada-U.S. showdowns usually are – the teams combined for just six minutes in penalties and a single power play.
The Canadians are right back to action Saturday at USA Hockey Arena, taking on Finland. Watch that game live on TSN, beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT.
“We stepped onto the ice kind of slow and they got the pace right away – the third period was better but it’s not only 20 minutes that’s going to make us win a game. I think it was a wake-up call for us and we are going to be ready when the puck drops next and play our game.”
– Marie-Philip Poulin (Beauceville, Que./Montreal, CWHL) on Canada’s slow start against the Americans
“The U.S. came out hard against us and played with a lot of passion and pride and I don’t think we showed the same passion tonight. We need to find more ways to get more pucks to the net and play with the details and habits that we know we can play with.”
– Head Coach Laura Schuler on Canada’s play in its opening game
“It was good to be back, I was excited and honoured to get this first game against the U.S. Anytime you put on that jersey it’s an honour but it was especially exciting for me to be back in the red and white tonight.”
– Szabados on returning to the world championship for the first time since 2013