Canada sweeps US women in finale

Buffalo resident Maureen Murphy (37) of the United States U22 team attempts to control the puck in front of a crowded net guarded by Canadian goaltender Kendra Woodland during the third period of Saturday’s game at the Olympic Center. Also pictured are Americans Gabby Hughes (39) and Clair DeGorge and Canada’s Jayln Elms (10) and Kirstin O’Neill.

LAKE PLACID — After the United States women’s select hockey teams swept their arch rivals in the second matchup of a three-game series on Thursday, Canada turned the tables in the finale on Saturday at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid.

In a doubleheader at Herb Brooks Arena, Canada won both the Under-18 and U22 contests to close out the series. The Canadians blanked the Americans 2-0 in the U18 battle and topped the U.S. by a 2-1 score in the U22 contest.

Six games took place over a four-day span, and in holding true to fashion whenever the U.S. and Canada clash in hockey at any level, the competition was extremely close. Two of the contests went to overtime, two were decided by a single goal, and another pair of matchups were settled by a two-goal margin.

In the end, the Americans won the U22 series 2-1 while the Canadians prevailed 2-1 in the U18 games. The games were also the culmination of a two-week stay in Lake Placid by the U.S. women. Their stint began with a training camp that players were chosen from to compete on the U22 and U18 teams in the series against Canada.

In the U18 competition, the U.S. came through with an amazing finish in the second game to tie their series when Abby Murphy scored with two seconds left in the third period to force overtime, and she then lifted her team to a 4-3 victory on a power-play goal during the five-minute, sudden-death period. The Americans may have carried some momentum from that thrilling victory into Sunday’s matchup, as they out shot Canada 11-3 in the opening period, but failed to bury an of those chances.

United States U18 players Makenna Webster (12) and Ella Huber are surrounded by a swam of Canadian defenders while battling for the puck in the first period of Saturday’s game. Pictured for Canada are Jenna Bugloni (10), Charli Kettyle (23), Sarah Thompson (24) and goaltender Eve Gascon.

Surviving the early onslaught, Canada went on to score the only goals of the game in a span of 2:04 midway through the second period. Lindsay Bochna put Canada on the board with an unassisted goal at the 8:15 mark, and Marianne Picard then buried what proved to be the back-breaker, scoring a shorthanded goal at the 11:19 mark after the U.S. coughed the puck up at the other end of the rink.

“That was a tough one to give up,” said Murphy, a forward from Evergreen Park, Illinois. “We had an unbelievable first period. We didn’t have as much intensity as we wanted to going into the second and third period. We took our foot off the gas for a little too long, they got up by two and and I think we let up a little bit.”

This marks the third year that Murphy has skated with the U.S. U18 team, which will be competing in the IIHF World Women’s U18 Championships in Slovakia during the holidays. Murphy and her teammates captured a gold two years ago in the event and settled for silver in January after falling in overtime to Canada in the title tilt. The camp in Lake Placid is part of the process of selecting and developing the U18 squad that will compete in the upcoming tournament.

“It’s an honor to represent the USA,” said Murphy, who hopes to be on the roster again in Slovakia. “I know these three games didn’t end up the way we wanted to, but just being able to be out here with 22 girls, it’s a blast and there’s no other way you want to spend your summer.

“We get along well, we work together well, every single year it’s a great team that’s bonds,” Murphy continued. “It’s a good team. I know we didn’t win that last one, but we beat them once and we can definitely do it again.”

Maura Crowell is the U18 coach and will be leading the team again in Slovakia. Crowell is also the head women’s coach at the University of Minnesota Duluth and said it’s been a successful two weeks worth of work in Lake Placid.

“The last couple weeks were great. I think we had a really good group of U18 players here, from camp to picking the select roster,” Crowell said. “I think they were locked in from start to finish. They learned a lot, We developed, and we use this series as an opportunity to continue developing. “We’re not at our peak yet, and that’s OK,” Crowell added. “There’s still a lot of growth to be had and we use all fall to continue the process and then ultimately name that hopefully gold medal world’s roster in November. I love these guys. I think they are awesome hockey players and more importantly awesome people. We have a really tight-knit group and that’s what we’re looking for.”

After winning by 3-2 and 4-2 scores the U.S. U22 squad was looking for a sweep Sunday. And at the same time, the Canadians were determined not to head back north winless, and that was evident in game three. Despite being out shot 28-20, Canada turned in its best effort of the series, and especially early on.

The Canadians netted their only two goals of the game midway through the first period in a span of just 75 seconds, and both came off the stick of Sarah Fillier, from Georgetown, Ontario.

Trailing 2-0, the U.S. cut its deficit to a single goal when Emily Brown tallied on the power player with 4:20 remaining in the second period. Brown’s goal, however, turned out to be the final score of the game. The Americans really hurt their chances of deadlocking the game late, as three U.S. players were called for minor penalties during the final 3:05 of the third period.

Despite the loss Sunday, U.S. head coach Joel Johnson liked what he saw from his team.

“I love the compete level of our team,” Johnson said. “Canada had a better compete level today in game three, and I think they were desperate, and that was one of the things we talked about with our team. They were playing with desperation and we weren’t. But over the series, I was proud of how our team competed.

“It’s tough to play a three-game series after two weeks of training camp and I was really excited that we won the series,” continued Johnson, who is the women’s associate head coach at the University of Minnesota. “We had chances to score today and we didn’t, and you have to credit Canada. They played a good game and you have to kind of tip your cap and say ‘good for you and we’ll see you next time.'”