OTTAWA — The Beijing Olympics are still two months away, but the rivalry between the Canadian and American women’s hockey teams is already running high.
The sellout crowd at Ottawa’s TD Place got a first-hand look on Tuesday night, and while they may have been disappointed by the end result, they were highly entertained.
Maddie Rooney posted a shutout for the U.S., stopping 26 shots in a 2-0 win over Canada in the fourth game of the Rivalry Series.
Ann-Renee Desbiens made 18 saves for Canada.
The series is tied 2-2 after Canada took the first two games and the Americans battled back for a 3-2 overtime win on Sunday.
“I think one of the big takeaways is that it’s going to be a battle right to the end,” said Canada’s head coach Troy Ryan. “It’s going to be competitive. I think both teams match up well together against each other and we can expect a battle moving forward.”
Rooney looked solid from start to finish and was in form when needed most.
“It’s just a common phrase, but your goaltender is your best penalty killer and I thought Maddie was fantastic (Tuesday),” said U.S. head coach Joel Johnson. “Not just on the penalty kill, but overall.”
Special teams proved to be the difference on the night as Hillary Knight and Amanda Kessel each scored a power-play goal for the Americans.
After a scoreless first period Canada dominated play at the start of the second, but penalty trouble left them trailing 2-0 by the end of the frame.
“I think we just learned that we have to play our way and do the things that make us successful and we got away from that a little bit in the second period,” said forward Jamie Lee Rattray. “Honestly, when we stay disciplined and start playing that way it’s very hard to compete with us.”
The U.S. got on the board during its first power play of the game as Megan Kellar’s point shot deflected off Knight’s skate to beat Desbiens.
Canada then took consecutive tripping penalties and the Americans took advantage, scoring on a 5-on-3 as Kessel fired a one-timer from the slot.
“I think the takeaway is that the penalties we take, we’ve got to be much more selective in the types of penalties we take,” Ryan said. “We can’t be taking those types of penalties that cost us and give them a chance to win.”
Canada had the support of 8,385 fans as it trailed 2-0 heading into the third, but were unable to give the crowd the comeback they wanted.
With 3:22 remaining, Hannah Brandt of the U.S. took a faceoff violation penalty and Canada pulled Desbiens for a two-man advantage, but the home side still couldn’t beat Rooney.
“She played unbelievable,” said Keller.
A scoreless first period accentuated the rivalry between the two teams.
At the 16-minute mark, U.S. forward Jesse Compher had a good chance in tight and Emily Clark took exception to her bumping Desbiens. The two came just shy of throwing punches.
The game was a rare opportunity for Rattray to play in front of hometown fans as she grew up in the suburb of Kanata, 20 minutes west of downtown Ottawa.
Canada’s women’s team will remain in Ottawa as they take part in the Capital City Challenge, a four-team tournament featuring three national men’s under-17 teams.
The Rivalry Series will shift to the U.S. next month with games Dec. 15 and Dec. 17 in St. Louis and Dec. 20 in St. Paul, Minn.