Saturday, 10 November 2018

U.S.A. roars to fourth straight 4 Nations Cup title

Wheels fall off for Canada in 5-2 loss

The United States celebrates a fourth straight 4 Nations Cup title.
    The United States senior national women’s hockey team were too much for Canada to handle in this round of their storied rivalry.
    On Saturday night at the SaskTel Centre, the U.S. romped to a 5-2 victory in finesse type fashion over Canada in the gold medal final of the 4 Nations Cup hockey tournament. The win marked the fourth consecutive year the United States has won the 4 Nations Cup.
    “Any time you can represent your country on a world stage, it is an amazing feeling,” said U.S. right-winger Hilary Knight, who scored twice in the gold medal final. “It is a great rivalry.
    “When you are in Canada, there is a lot more pressure. It is good to gain that experience. It is good to gain that momentum going into the next tournament and the next game.
U.S. RW Dani Cameranesi (#24) is stopped by Canada G Shannon Szabados.
    “There is lots to work on, but I am extremely happy with our squad.”
    The U.S. has been dominate in recent years on the women’s stage. They have taken the last four world championship tournaments and captured gold over Canada at the last Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, held this past February.
    Canada’s last win at a major tournament final against the U.S. was at the 4 Nations Cup in 2014 held in Kamloops, B.C.
    At this year’s 4 Nations Cup, the U.S. finished at 4-0. Canada had a 2-2 record with both losses coming to the U.S.
    The United States took the preliminary round encounter 2-1 on Wednesday with a late third period goal.
Hilary Knight celebrates her second of two goals for the U.S.
    Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin said it feels like it has been a long time since Canada beat the U.S. in a major tournament final. She believes that will be something that keeps getting the players on her squad motivated during training.
    Following the loss on Saturday, Poulin said the players on the Canadian team need to do more self-reflection.
    “I think we just have to take a look in the mirror,” said Poulin. “I think for us we all go back to our individual teams now, and I think for us we have to move forward.
    “Obviously, it is disappointing. You never want to lose on home soil. We are going to have a hard look in the mirror and really look at what we have to do to move forward and take more pride in wearing that jersey.”
Captain Marie-Philip Poulin breaks into the offensive zone for Canada.
    The United States went ahead 1-0 just 88 seconds into Saturday’s game, when Knight wrapped home a goal on Canadian star netminder Shannon Szabados.
    Canada responded just over two minutes later, when defender Laura Fortino drove home a point shot to tie things up at 1-1.
    With 3:29 remaining in the first, the U.S. went ahead 2-1 on a perfectly executed 2-on-1 rush. States centre Kelly Pannek drove down the right wing and fed a perfect pass across the front of the Canadian goal to linemate Melissa Samoskevich, who fired home the go-ahead tally.
    “I thought we played really well,” said U.S. left-winger Dani Cameranesi, who had two assists in Saturday’s win. “We came at them hard and fast, which is what we wanted to do.
    “We made a few adjustments to our game from the previous games and especially the last game against Canada. I thought it turned out in our favour.”
Sidney Morin starts a rush up ice for the U.S.
    The U.S. continued to take it to Canada going ahead 4-1 in the second frame scoring a pair of goals in a span of 24 seconds coming off the sticks of captain Brianna Decker and the second of the night from Knight.
    Decker scored her goal off a beauty setup pass from right-winger Sydney Brodt and Knight tipped home a point shot taken by defender Sydney Morin.
    “Once you get behind 4-1 and you’ve been struggling to score goals, it is a big mountain to climb,” said Canadian head coach Perry Pearn. “I didn’t think that we gave up.
    “What happens is now you think you have to make the perfect shot. You pass up the things that I think you have to do to beat the U.S.
    “You have to take shots, create rebounds, beat them to the loose pucks and get second and third chances. We didn’t do enough of that.”
Jaime Bourbonnais scored for Canada in the third period.
    The U.S. surge didn’t stop there. Just 41 seconds into the third, Kendall Coyne Schofield scored for the States to increase their edge to 5-1.
    Canada pulled Szabados after that tally. She stopped 18 of 23 shots fired her way. Emerance Maschmeyer turned away two shots playing the rest of the way for Canada in relief.
    The SaskTel Centre crowd that has been relatively quiet since the first period did come to life one more time, when 20-year-old Canadian defender Jaime Bourbonnais blasted home a power-play goal just past the midway point of the third period.
    The goal wasn’t enough to spark a miracle comeback.
Alex Rigsby makes one of her 23 saves in goal for the U.S.
    Alex Rigsby stopped 23 shots in the United States net.
    Bourbonnais, who was playing her first games ever with Canada’s senior national women’s team over the past week, admitted Saturday’s final wasn’t the ending her side envisioned for the tournament.
    “I learned that hockey is a very tough game,” said Bourbonnais. “Obviously, the Americans are a very good team.
    “You can’t take a shift off at all. I think (it is about) just moving forward and learning from this and excelling in the future. It is definitely frustrating.
    “I don’t think we had a bad game at all. I thought we put a lot of pressure on them. We just have to learn from our experiences and keep going.”
    For the moment, the U.S. gets to enjoy the distinction of being the dominant side in the rivalry.
Members of the U.S. team get pictured with the 4 Nations Cup trophy.
    While Knight said her team always has to be mindful that they need to keep improving, she will never turn away from a positive result on the scoreboard.
    “It is nice to win,” said Knight. “I won’t complain about that.”

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