GANGNEUNG, South Korea – Geneviève Lacasse (Kingston, Ont./Calgary, CWHL) was spectacular in a 44-save performance, backstopping Canada’s Women’s Olympic Team to a 2-1 win over the United States in the preliminary-round finale for both Thursday at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
The victory is the 23rd consecutive for the Canadians at the Olympics, and the fifth in a row over the U.S.
Meghan Agosta (Ruthven, Ont.) and Sarah Nurse (Hamilton, Ont./University of Wisconsin, WCHA) provided the offence for Canada, scoring second-period goals just over seven minutes apart.
The first period was a shooting gallery, with the teams combining for 26 shots (the Americans had a 14-12 advantage). But Lacasse and American counterpart Maddie Rooney were perfect, sending the game to the intermission scoreless.
Agosta made good on a Canadian power play to get the scoring started just past the seven-minute mark of the second period, finishing a behind-the-back pass from Natalie Spooner (Scarborough, Ont./Toronto, CWHL) to put Canada ahead.
Nurse doubled the lead at 14:56, finding room over the short-side shoulder of Rooney with a picture-perfect shot, going just under the cross-bar for her first-ever Olympic goal.
“It was an intense game, we expected that and I’m sure they did as well. We battled through right to the end and Lacasse really came up big for us.”
– Haley Irwin (Thunder Bay, Ont./Calgary, CWHL)
“We have something special here, we have a lot of depth on this team and great players with speed, talent and skill. It’s going to take everybody, whether it’s their first Olympics or their fourth; we started this mission back in August and we need to keep it going.”
– Agosta on team chemistry
“Definitely really happy with this afternoon’s win. There’s still parts of our game that we can continue to improve and we’ll spend the next couple of days here looking at video and seeing where those areas are.”
– Head coach Laura Schuler
The Americans had a chance to get one back before the end of the middle frame, but Lacasse turned away Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson on a penalty shot after a Canadian covered the puck in the crease.
The U.S. did eventually pull within one when Kendall Coyne split the defence and went five-hole on Lacasse just 23 seconds into the third period, but that would be the lone puck to beat the Canadian netminder.
The teams traded late power plays, and scoring chances, in the dying minutes, but neither could produce a goal. The Canadians had a potential insurance goal from Haley Irwin (Thunder Bay, Ont./Calgary, CWHL) waved off, while the Americans hit the post in the final seconds.
With the win, Canada finishes perfect in the preliminary round and clinches first place in Group A. It will wait for the results of the quarter-finals on Saturday to find out its Sunday semifinal opponent.