Updated Thursday, February 13th
Canada closed out their preliminary round with a 3-2 win over the United States, early-evening in Sochi.
Meghan Agosta-Marciano fuelled a third period comeback with two goals, including the winner on a breakaway. Charline Labonté made 25 of 27 saves in her second start. The Canadians finish the prelims unbeaten, and with the victory also win their pool ahead of the US.
It was a more tussle-free game than anyone might have forseen, and Canada stuck to pure hockey, especially entering the third down 1-0, “We knew it was going to be a battle, we just stuck to the game plan. We knew going into the third we had them where we wanted them, we just needed to get one early,” said Agosta-Marciano. That signals some confidence from the team, and also the back-and-forth tendency of games between these two teams.
The goaltending was excellent. US goalie Jessie Vetter had to withstand two Canadian breakaways in the first five minutes of the game. Hilary Knight put the US up 1-0 late in the first, tipping in an Anne Schleper blast.
But Canada reversed the momentum in the final frame, starting with Agosta-Marciano potting a gift on Vetter’s wide open glove side 2:21 in. Hayley Wickenheiser pushed Canada into the lead 1:33 seconds later, with Agosta-Marciano’s second goal coming with only 5:05 left in the game.
In the months before Sochi, Canada lost the final four games of a pre-Olympic exhibition series with their rivals. Captain Caroline Ouellette highlighted this post-game, “I think it’s huge for our confidence, we wanted to see where we were at this point, losing the last four games, this is a huge boost for our confidence,” she said.
Canada’s tournament now takes a break for a few days. Both Canada and the US will advance to the semi-finals, after being top-2 out of pool A. The quarter-finals are Saturday, with the semis Monday. According the tournament structure, Canada should possibly be playing either Switzerland or one of Sweden and Russia. The IIHF website originally showed Finland in Canada’s bracket but it has since changed to show SUI.
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