SAN JOSE, Calif. – Haley Irwin (Thunder Bay, Ont./Calgary, CWHL), Sarah Nurse (Hamilton, Ont./University of Wisconsin, WCHA) and Marie-Philip Poulin (Beauceville, Que./Montreal, CWHL) scored as Canada’s National Women’s Team beat the United States 3-1 to pick up its fourth straight win of the pre-Olympic series.
Ann-Renée Desbiens (La Malbaie, Que./University of Wisconsin, WCHA) made 25 saves in earning her first win against the Americans with the National Women’s Team.
Two other players also scored milestones: for Nurse, her goal was her first point against her team’s biggest rival; and with her assist on Irwin’s goal, Sarah Potomak (Aldergrove, B.C./University of Minnesota, WCHA) picked up her first point against the U.S.
After dropping the opener of the six-game set, Canada now leads the series 4-1. Its latest win was its best game yet. The team held a 36-26 advantage in shots on net, and both Meghan Agosta (Ruthven, Ont./Hockey Canada) and Rebecca Johnston (Sudbury, Ont./Calgary, CWHL) rang pucks off the outside of the post.
It was the United States, however, striking first on the power play early in the second period. Fifteen seconds after Jennifer Wakefield (Pickering, Ont./Linköping HC, SWE) took a seat for tripping, Brianna Decker snuck away from her defender to shovel in a rebound at the side of the net.
Later in the period, Canada struck twice in less than three minutes to take a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Irwin tied the game with a great individual effort. She gained possession of the puck below the goal line, cycled to the side boards, held the puck through the slot and finished with a low backhand from the circle.
Nurse swiped at the puck in the crease and, with perhaps an assist to the stick of defender Kacey Bellamy, gave Canada the lead 2:24 later on a goal that needed a pair of video reviews. The challenges confirmed no kicking motion by Nurse and no goalie interference by a crashing-the-net Laura Stacey (Kleinburg, Ont./Markham, CWHL).
Canada struck early in the third period to extend its lead. Agosta won a battle along the end boards and fed the puck out front to Poulin, who paused for a split second before going glove side.
Alex Rigsby stopped 33 Canadian shots for the U.S.
The teams wrap up their series in Edmonton on Sunday (7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT).