EDMONTON, Alta. – Jennifer Wakefield (Pickering, Ont./Linköping HC, SWE) scored with 26 seconds to play in overtime as Canada’s National Women’s Team defeated the United States 2-1 to close out the teams’ six-game pre-Olympic series.
Natalie Spooner (Scarborough, Ont./Toronto, CWHL) set up the game-winner with a great individual effort, taking the puck from mid-ice, driving along the boards and below the goal line, before throwing the puck out front. A trailing Wakefield buried the puck home in the crease.
Marie-Philip Poulin (Beauceville, Que./Montreal, CWHL) scored in regulation for Canada. Rebecca Johnston (Sudbury, Ont./Calgary, CWHL) and Laura Fortino (Hamilton, Ont./Markham, CWHL) earned the assists.
Shannon Szabados (Edmonton, Alta./Hockey Canada) picked up her second 2-1 overtime win of the series.
After dropping the opener, Canada ran off five straight wins in the series.
The crowd of 17,468 saw Canada open the scoring late in the first period on Sunday.
Coming in, the Americans had enjoyed eight more power play chances than the Canadians. When it did have the man-advantage, Canada had struggled, converting only once in 18 opportunities.
In the series finale, the Canadian power play broke through for the first time since Game 2. Gigi Marvin and Meghan Duggan took back-to-back penalties, giving Canada a five-on-three advantage for 31 seconds.
“It feels pretty awesome knowing that the work we’ve put in every day, knowing that we’ve played so many games – that last win feels pretty good, especially on home soil here in Edmonton [with a] full crowd. It was quite special.”
Marie-Philip Poulin on closing the series with 5-1 record following Canada’s 2-1 OT win in Edmonton
“I take notice on ice, during the warm-up, all the little girls and the little guys come up to the glass and cheer us on, and it’s really nice to see all their posters. It’s great that the parents are taking them out to sporting events to expose them to what they can become. My dad and my mom did the exact same thing with me, and [it] instilled that little dream that I had, and hopefully we can do that for some of the younger fans that were here this evening.”
Jennifer Wakefield talks about the strong support from young fans at Sunday’s Edmonton game against the U.S. Women’s National Team
“Any time you get an opportunity to play a game – whether it’s against the U.S. or against the boys here that we play in the Alberta Midget Hockey League – you always get an opportunity to learn where you’re at. There are things in our game that we need to continue to work on and improve as we go forward, and that will be our focus. I’m really happy with our process and where we’re at. The girls have been really open to making little tweaks here and there to our gameplan so that we can improve.”
Head coach Laura Schuler on the process of preparing for PyeongChang
Marvin’s penalty had just expired when Fortino fed a short pass to Poulin, whose slap shot from the top of the circle beat Maddie Rooney.
It was Poulin’s team-leading fourth goal of the series. Poulin – 4G 1A – and Meghan Agosta (Ruthven, Ont./Hockey Canada) – 2G 3A – finished tied for the team lead in scoring, with five points each.
The United States equalized with the only goal of the second period, with Hilary Knight finishing off a centering pass from Kendall Coyne.
After playing eight times this fall – the teams also met twice at the 2017 4 Nations Cup, with Canada dropping both games – there’s no love lost between the two rivals. But they will now enjoy a two-month break from each other. Canada next faces the United States on Feb. 14, 2018, in the preliminary round of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.