QUEBEC CITY, Que. – Meghan Agosta (Ruthven, Ont./Hockey Canada) and Jillian Saulnier (Halifax, N.S./Calgary, CWHL) scored, but Canada’s National Women’s Team fell 5-2 to the United States on Sunday in the first of six pre-Olympic exhibition games between the rivals.
Ann-Renée Desbiens (La Malbaie, Que./University of Wisconsin, WCHA) took the loss in net.
Canada looked to have opened the scoring six minutes in; Natalie Spooner (Scarborough, Ont./Toronto, CWHL) drove down the boards and behind the U.S. net before passing out front. With the puck going in off the skate of the trailing Bailey Bram (Ste. Anne, Man./Calgary, CWHL), the goal was waved off.
Instead, it was the U.S. getting on the board first. On the power play, Megan Bozek hit the post from the point, and Hilary Knight deposited in the rebound from the doorstep.
Minutes after the Canadians couldn’t convert of their first power play opportunity, the U.S. doubled its lead with another rebound, this one by Brianna Decker.
Canada broke through late in the first. Agosta broke free on a breakaway, and after goaltender Maddie Rooney slipped coming out to challenge, the forward scored into an empty net. Agosta now has 20 goals against the United States, most of anyone on Canada’s 28-player centralization roster.
The U.S. took control of the game with a three-goal second period.
Annie Pankowski tipped in Alex Carpenter’s centering pass only 1:12 into the period. A poor cross-ice pass by the Canadians was intercepted and led to Carpenter scoring shorthanded off a centering pass from Emily Pfalzer. Decker then scored her second goal of the game, a one-timer seconds into a power play.
Canada struggled to create offence of its own during the middle frame. Its first shot didn’t come until nine minutes in, on the power play.
The only goal of the third period came on a nice passing play by the Canadians, and Saulnier’s backhand finish off a behind-the-net feed from Brianne Jenner (Oakville, Ont./Calgary, CWHL).
The teams face off again Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT) in Boston.