USA women's hockey team can't complete comeback in loss to Canada at XL Center

Published on Monday, 25 October 2021 23:27
Written by Ryan Ames


HARTFORD – Two timely goals from Sarah Fillier helped boost Canada past the United States, 3-2, in a women’s hockey exhibition match at the XL Center on Monday as part of the My Why Tour.

Team USA received goals from Cayla Barnes and Amanda Kessel in the first and second periods, respectively, but Fillier’s second strike in the third sent the Canadians to its fourth straight victory over Team USA.

“Obviously a tough loss,” Team USA coach Joel Johnson said. “We thought we played pretty well. Certainly the first period we would like a restart, but after that I thought the second half of the first period and the rest of the game was pretty good for us. [We’re] never going to be satisfied with the loss.”

Team Canada scored on its first two shots of the game as Victoria Bach opened the scoring 36 seconds in with a snipe shot from the slot, before Fillier doubled the visitors’ lead to 2-0 less than five minutes later after the Americans turned the puck over behind their own net.

Team USA settled in afterward and managed to outshoot Team Canada, 11-4, in the period, but a pair of early goals had the Americans chasing from the start.

“We don’t want a slow start like that, but the way responded is important and we have to find that at the beginning of every game,” Barnes said.

A power-play goal from Barnes at 12:32 of the first gave Team USA the spark it needed after Team Canada’s captain Marie-Philip Poulin was sent off for boarding. Barnes ripped a slap shot from the point that beat Team Canada goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens blocker side.

Team USA tied it up at 5:34 of the second period following a couple of great feeds from Barnes and Brianna Decker. Kessel was all alone in the slot and took Decker’s pass from the half-wall in stride and fired it past Desbiens to even the score at 2-2.

“Brianna just has great vision,” Kessel said. “I don’t even think I called for the puck, but she’s able to see a lot out there. I got it in the slot, the red seas parted and I put one home.”

The final frame offered chances on both sides and it appeared extra time was going to be needed, but a high-sticking penalty from Team USA’s Megan Keller sent Team Canada on the man-advantage with less than five minutes left in regulation. Fillier posted up on the far post and jammed in a Brianne Jenner pass through American goalie Nicole Hensley 50 seconds later which served as the game-winning goal.

“I’m not concerned one bit,” Johnson said regarding Keller’s ill-timed penalty. “I didn’t see the replay, I didn’t see the penalty live, I’m not worried about Megan Keller. She’s one of the best players in the world. I trust our players. There are times people take poor penalties, I’m not worried about if it was a good or bad penalty.”

Fillier, Poulin and Barnes each tallied two points in a game that featured 20 shots from both squads.

Desbiens made 18 saves for Team Canada while Hensley turned aside 17 shots for Team USA. Alex Cavallini (USA) and Emerance Maschmeyer (CAN) started in net in the previous game between the teams, in which Team Canada won 3-1, on Oct. 22 in Pennsylvania.

“For us, it’s just focusing on what makes us successful and play our way,” Team Canada coach Troy Ryan said. “When we’re able to do that, generally some good things are going to happen. We talked tonight about playing a full 60 minutes, I don’t think we did that tonight, but it’s still nice to be able to get those wins when you don’t play the full 60 minutes.”

Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

Posted in New Britain Herald, General Sports on Monday, 25 October 2021 23:27. Updated: Monday, 25 October 2021 23:29.