For the second straight game it took more the 40 minutes to finally solve an opposing goaltender but Canada used three third-period goals to rally and beat Team USA 3-2 Wednesday in an Olympic women’s hockey preliminary match at Shayba Arena in Sochi, Russia. Hilary Knight opened the scoring for the US with a Power Play goal for the Unites States late in the second period. The lead however would not last much longer then the intermission as birthday girl Meghan Agosta-Marciano celebrated her 27th by burying the tying goal two minutes into the third period on a beautiful one-timer off the backhanded pass from captain Hayley Wickenheiser.
Canada took a 2-1 lead shortly after some confusion. American netminder Jesse Vetter stopped Wickenheiser’s initial shot, but the puck slid under her and across the goal-line as American forward Alex Carpenter tried to tuck the rebound back to her goaltender. The goal was reviewed and confirmed. Some controversy ensued as many thought the whistle had blown before the puck crossed the goal line, however the replays show the correct call was made.
Agosta-Marciano added her second of the game with a little less then six minutes left in the game. Picking up a loose puck at her own blue-line she showed her tremendous speed as she pulled away for a breakaway before sliding the puck past Vetter for the eventual game winner.
A two goal lead is never comfortable at this level and the US proved to make things interesting cutting the score to 3-2 as Anne Schleper scored with a little more then a minute remaining in the game. Things were made even more interesting as Canada received a too-many-men penalty in the final minute of the game, but they were able to kill it off for their first win over the Unites States in their last 8 meetings.
This game had a much different feel tehn all others in the Women’s tournament. These two teams dislike eachother and that was made very evident from the gritty nature of the matchup today. Bodychecking is not allowed in the women’s game but referees use some leeway considering the fierce nature of this U.S.-Canada rivalry. USA forward Megan Bozak did her best to get under the skin of Canadian players, particularly after the whistles with a little extracurricular pushing and shoving. She’d targeted veterans Wickenheiser early in the first period and then Jayna Hefford later in the frame. The win was big for Canada as they now know they can be competitive with the USA team that had swept them so far this year. This result will bring much more edge to the likely rematch in the Gold Medal final.