BURLINGTON – Team USA stunned Canada with five goals in the first five and a half minutes of the game, forced a goaltending change, and romped to an easy 9-2 victory uncharacteristic of this great women’s rivalry. It marked the most goals Canada has ever surrendered in a women's hockey game.
"That's the way we like to come out," Kelli Stack said in understatement. "There are always a few butterflies, but that's when you have the most energy. We got the puck in deep, and the bounces definitely went our way."
In all, Monique Lamoureux-Kolls had three goals and three assists while her sister, Jocelyne, had two goals and an assist. Stack, their linemate, had three assists. Canada has never lost by seven or given up five goals in a period.
"Give them a lot of credit. They had us on our heels. We came out too tentative, and I think they got a few lucky bounces. It's a disappointing loss, but fortunately it's not the one that really matters," noted Canada's captain Hayley Wickenheiser. "We have a lot of hockey left, so we have to re-focus."
Jocelyne Lamoureux got things started just 37 seconds in, jamming away at the puck in Charline Labonte’s crease and getting the sold-out crowd into the game. Less than a minute later, Hilary Knight knocked in a loose puck after Labonte had failed to control a shot from Kendall Coyne.
Two minutes later came a power-play goal from Monique Lamoureux-Kolls, followed by Labonte’s substitution. She skated to the bench without being prompted, but when Shannon Szabados came in, little changed.
The Americans continued to charge the net, scoring again from Julie Chu on a power play and then again from in close from Lamoureux-Kolls again. The Canadians stumbled around as if in a fog. Their nervousness was palpable, their shock absolutely resonating throughout the Gutterson Fieldhouse.
But their play—or lack of it—was absolutely the result of U.S. tenacity. The Americans got the puck to the point in the middle of the ice, created traffic in front and shot at the cage like a pinball machine. Canada had no response to the energy and tenacity of their opponents. It didn’t help that they gave up four power plays and created only one.
"We wanted to get shots on net, and we did that every chance we got. We got some rebounds, and it worked out well for us," Stack added. "Our hometown crowd was awesome. It really helped us out a lot."
Coach Dan Church put Labonte back in to start the second, and Canada came out a different team. It broke the shutout spell just 39 seconds in when Natalie Spooner found herself alone in front. She made a great deke on goalie Molly Schaus to make it 5-1.
Less than three minutes later, the Americans snuffed out any possibility of some great comeback, making it 6-1 on Lamoureux’s second of the night. "That goal shifted the momentum right back in our direction, which was great," Stack said.
The rest of the period was evenly played, as one might expect from these two teams, but late in the period Canada scored a nice goal on a two-on-one, Jayna Hefford putting a perfect pass on the stick of Marie-Philip Poulin to make it 6-2.
Josephine Pucci added a goal early in the third to make it 7-2 for the U.S., and the team added two more to finish the romp.
And so the two teams headed to their hotels with different mindsets. Canada knew it was capable of winning a one-game showdown in the gold-medal game if it got there, and the Americans knew if they played again like they did on this night, well, they’d be pretty much unstoppable.
Canada plays Finland in the early game tomorrow and the U.S. plays Russia in the night contest.
"We had a great start to the tournament tonight, but now we have to build on that," Lamoureux-Kolls said.