By Diane McLaughlin
BU News Service
BOSTON – A storied women’s hockey rivalry came to Boston University’s Agganis Arena Wednesday night ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, as the United States and Canada took the ice to kick off the U.S. team’s “The Time is Now Tour.”
Canada, which has won the last four Olympic gold medals, got revenge for a 5-2 loss at the hands of the U.S. in Quebec City Sunday, skating to a 5-1 victory over the Americans.
The game, which featured many former Hockey East players, kicked off the seven-game tour. Stops will include the Four Nations Cup in Florida in November, contested between Canada, Sweden and Finland, and additional games against Canada in Minnesota and California in December.
In front of a sellout crowd filled with young fans, the U.S. team had two power plays in the first four minutes, but could not capitalize on the opportunities. Instead, Canada scored first on a goal by Natalie Spooner in the eighth minute, assisted by Meghan Agosta.
Former Boston College defenseman Emily Pfalzer tied the game at 1 with an unassisted goal 10:55 into the frame, the only U.S. goal of the night.
Despite outshooting Canada 23-9 around the halfway mark of the middle period, the U.S. found itself falling behind. Short-handed for the second time in the period, Canada got on the board again when Laura Fortino knocked the puck past goalie Nicole Hensley. Jillian Saulnier assisted on the goal.
Spooner then tallied her second goal of the night during a power play late in the period. After a save by Hensley, Canada gained control of the loose puck and sent it home. Meaghan Mikkleson and former BU captain Marie-Philip Poulin assisted on the play.
With the home team down 3-1, fans began chanting “USA.” But with 15 seconds remaining in the period, Agosto put the game firmly out of reach, scoring off a pass from another former BU captain, Jennifer Wakefield.
After allowing four goals on 14 shots, Hensley was replaced in the third period by Alex Rigsby. None of the three goalies competing for spots on the team – Hensley, Rigsby and Maddie Rooney – has Olympic experience. The youngest member of the U.S. team, 20-year-old Rooney, was not active Wednesday, but was in goal for Sunday’s victory against Canada.
Poulin, who received loud cheers from the crowd during the teams’ introductions, rounded out Canada’s scoring with an unassisted goal late in the third period.
Canada’s goalie, Providence College graduate Genevieve Lacasse, stopped 37 of 38 shots, including a breakaway by former Northeastern University star Kendall Coyne.
After the game, Coyne said the team needs to be “sharper” going forward.
“It’s October,” she said. “We’re fortunate we’re in this position now and know what things we have to work on come the next few months.”
The Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will mark the 20th anniversary of the debut of Olympic women’s hockey. The U.S. women won the first gold medal in 1998, before Canada’s four-year streak.