Canada Earns Top Spot In Group A With Gutsy Win Over USA

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Anne Cherkowski opened the scoring and Marianne Picard’s goal stood up as the game winner, leading Canada to a 2-1 victory over the United States and top spot in group A. © Steve Kingsman/HHOF-IIHF Images

Bratislava, Slovakia – Anne Cherkowski (Vernon, B.C./Pursuit of Excellence, CSSHL) opened the scoring and Marianne Picard’s (Repentigny, Que./Stanstead College, NAPHA) goal stood up as the game winner as Canada survived a late push from the United States to hold on for a 2-1 win on Sunday to close out preliminary round play at the 2020 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship.

It was a quick start for Canada, with Cherkowski’s goal coming just 20 seconds into the game. Maddie Wheeler (Erinsville, Ont./Kingston, PWHL) fought off an American defender behind the net to get a pass off to Cherkowski, who took no time to snap the puck into the back of the net while she was all alone in front of the net.

A lengthy 5-on-3 power play gave the Americans the opportunity to find the equalizer midway through the first, but Canada was able to weather the storm and skated into the first intermission holding on to the 1-0 lead.

Neither team could find the back of the net in the second. Cherkowski, looking for her second of the game, had the best chance to score for Canada in the period, but was stoned by Skylar Vetter on the breakaway chance. At the other end of the ice, Ève Gascon (Terrebonne, Que./Collège Esther-Blondin/LHMAAAQ) also stood tall, making several sprawling stops to preserve the Canadian lead.

Picard doubled the lead for Canada late in the third period. With 5:39 left in the frame, Picard intercepted an American pass, skated the puck around the American net, and flipped it up and over the shoulder of Vetter to extend the lead to 2-0.

Picard’s goal would stand as the game winner after the United States scored with two seconds left in the game to cut the lead in half. With the goalie pulled and a scramble in front of the net after a shot in from Makenna Webster, Eden Lacey was able to tip the puck past Gascon to get the U.S. on the board.

Despite the last second goal, Gascon was brilliant between the pipes for Canada, stopping 27 of 28 shots against for a .964 save percentage in the contest.

Quotes:

“Maya [Labad] made a really nice play getting it in, and then Wheels (Maddi Wheeler) got hard on their defence, caused a turnover and all I had to do at that point was get it in the net. It never stops being exciting, especially when it’s against a rival like the United States, so it feels awesome that I was able to get that goal on the board for us.”

  • Cherkowski on scoring early in the first period

 

“It feels amazing. No other words for it. It’s one of the best moments of the tournament for me so far, especially against a rival like the USA; it’s a pretty big goal for me. We were pretty confident going into that third period, but we wanted to get that other one – leading 1-0 feels like the worst lead you can have in a hockey game, so it was huge that we were able to get that second one.”

  • Picard on scoring the game-winning goal

 

“I tried to not think too much and just play my game out there. My teammates were really amazing in front of me, so it gave me the chance to just focus on making some of those bigger saves. I honestly think it’s a lot of fun to play these close games where you really have to work hard to stay in front of everything, and it’s amazing to be able to be a part of the Canada-USA rivalry in my own way.”

  • Gascon on her performance in net

 

“I thought it was a great game. We made a goal at the beginning of the tournament that we wanted to improve each game, and I think we did that today for sure. I think with that game we build a little bit of confidence in our systems and chemistry within our lines, so we’ll enjoy this one for a bit and then build from this and move onto the next one.”

  • Assistant coach Britni Smith (Port Perry, Ont./Clarkson University, ECAC) on improvement in each game played

Canada has a two-day break, but will be back on the ice for semifinal action on Wednesday (6:30 a.m. ET/3:30 a.m. PT).