DMITROV, Russia – Lexie Adzija (St. Thomas, Ont./Oakville, PWHL) had a goal and an assist in regulation time, but Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team fell short in a 4-3 shootout loss to the United States in the semifinals Friday at the 2018 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship.
The Canadians will play for the bronze medal on Saturday (7:30 a.m. ET/4:30 a.m. PT) against the loser of the Russia-Sweden semi.
A strong second period gave Canada a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes, but penalty trouble doomed the Canadians in the third and allowed the Americans to tie the game and force extra time.
After Maggie Connors (St. John’s, N.L./Shattuck-St. Mary’s, USHS) converted on the first Canadian attempt in the shootout, faking to the forehand before roofing a backhand, Britta Curl answered for the U.S. in Round 2 and Makenna Webster got the winner on the fourth American shot.
The Canadians came out with momentum, getting the first five shots of the game, and had the best chance early when Julia Gosling (London, Ont./London, PWHL) danced around a U.S. defenceman before ringing her shot off the crossbar.
The play headed the other way after the close call, and Taylor Heise got her stick on a Gracie Ostertag shot to give the Americans the 1-0 lead at 8:33.
Canada got even with less than five minutes to go in the opening frame when Zoe Boyd (Caledon, Ont./Mississauga, PWHL) got her point shot through traffic and past U.S. goaltender Lindsay Reed to send the game to the intermission tied 1-1.
The Canadians took their first lead when Adzija redirected a shot from Alexie Guay (Magog, Que./Stanstead College, NAPHA) past Reed to make it 2-1 on the power play at 13:29 of the second period, and Emily Rickwood (Brantford, Ont./Oakville, PWHL) finished a pretty passing play with Adzija and captain Sarah Fillier (Georgetown, Ont./Oakville, PWHL) to push the advantage to two just over three minutes later.
The U.S. comeback started early in the third period with a power-play goal by Casey O’Brien at 5:22, before Kelly Browne knocked a rebound past Canadian netminder Madelyn McArthur (St. Catharines, Ont./Oakville, PWHL) at 9:36 to equalize for the Americans.
McArthur was the story in overtime, making 10 saves to ensure the game got to the shootout.
After Connors scored, Fillier, Claire Dalton (Toronto, Ont./Toronto, PWHL) and Adzija were denied before Audrey-Anne Veillette (Drummondville, Que./Stanstead College, NAPHA) went high with the final Canadian attempt.
“A shootout can go either way – I think we deserved this win, but we have another [game] tomorrow, and we’ll bounce back. We want to get that bronze for sure – we’re going to be ready for tomorrow.
“It was really inspiring to see our girls out there blocking shots and giving it their all for the team. We knew we needed this kind of energy from the bench, and I know that as a player, when I’m on the ice and I hear that, it’s always [like] a little boost of energy. So it’s nice to have it with every shift – every blocked shot, every pass, every good play; when the bench is active and cheering, it’s nice to see.”
Alexie Guay on the semifinal loss, and the importance of the team’s on-ice and on-the-bench energy in Friday’s game
“I’m really incredibly proud of our athletes – our players and our coaching staff. We played our hearts out. Everyone bought into the game plan. I’m not necessarily sure it would have been a different outcome if the officiating was different, but I did think it was very one-sided. And our team felt that. But we battled through that – and overall, I’m just incredibly proud of the team and the staff. We had good energy on our bench, good energy overall throughout the day. Ultimately, we have to consider the fact that we did have a slow start to the tournament, and that put us in a position to play the United States in the semifinal. [We need] to just move on quickly. This is sports. It’s a true test of character always. There’s always an opportunity. We want to come out and try to medal tomorrow, and that will be our full intention. We’ll be ready to go.”
Head coach Delaney Collins’ reaction to Team Canada’s performance in the semifinal against its U.S. rivals, and how to refocus on the bronze-medal game ahead