On guard
by Erin Brown|11 JAN 2023
Emma Pais recorded a goal and an assist in Canada's win.
photo: Chris Tanouye / IIHF
Caitlin Kraemer scored twice and a dominant Canadian defensive effort delivered a 3-1 win over the United States to close out round-robin play.

The victory put Canada atop Group A with nine points. But with the rivals having secured semifinal berths heading into the contest, this one was mostly for bragging rights.

"Anytime you get the chance to play the Americans, it's a rivalry, everyone's going to show up," Canada coach Courtney Birchard-Kessel said. "It's battle of the border, so it's pretty special."

Emma Pais recorded a goal and an assist, Charlotte Pieckenhagen added a pair of assists and goaltender Hannah Clark needed to make just 10 saves.

The Canadians limited the Americans to three shots in the first period, six in the second and two in the third. The United States didn't register a shot on net in the final stanza until Cassandra Hall's unsuccessful penalty shot at 7:18.

"We've been working on our D-zone a little bit, but I just think as the game progressed, we got better," Birchard-Kessel said. "That's what we want to see, right? Day by day, shift by shift getting better and sticking to our game plan."

U.S. netminder Annelies Bergmann finished with 32 saves in the loss.
Canada vs United States - 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship
Caitlin Kraemer scored twice and a dominant Canadian defensive effort delivered a 3-1 win over the United States to close out round-robin play.
CAN USA 11 JAN 2023
American captain Joy Dunne broke a deadlock 11:15 into the second period. On a draw in the right circle, Hall and Canada's Jordan Baxter tangled, but never appeared to touch the puck. It bounced behind the American forward, and Dunne pounced on it to fire a shot between Clark's pads.

"(The play) was set up so I'd shoot and go to the net for a rebound," Dunne said. "But it just went in instead. We'll take it. We were just trying to get it to the net."

Canada responded just 1:28 later. Bergmann made the initial save on Pieckenhagen's shot from the slot, but kicked the rebound to the left circle where Kraemer fired it back into a partially open net.

Pais then gave the Canadians their first lead of the contest at 14:57 of the second by finishing off tic-tac-toe passing. Abby Lunney stripped American Margaret Scannell of the puck in the left corner and quickly found Pieckenhagen at the edge of the crease. The forward then set up Pais about a meter away. The Canadian captain shifted to her backhand and slid the puck between Bergmann's pads.

"I think after they scored we kind of just got fired up on the bench and everyone got excited to get on the ice," Pais said. "We were doing really good zone entries and everyone was bearing down on those rebounds. So it was awesome when we got those two quick."

Canada extended the lead on a controversial sequence 3:12 into the third period. With Bergmann well out of the crease, Samantha Taber sprawled along the goal line and was pushed into the net as the whistle blew. Referees never signaled a goal on the ice. The Canadians erupted in celebration while U.S. players reacted as if play had stopped.

"That was pretty crazy," Kraemer said. "No one cared who scored it. It was just the fact that we got the goal and I think that showed with our celebration.

"The puck was in the net," she added. "In my opinion it was a full goal. The replay showed that and you've just got to really do everything to make the refs really believe that it was a goal."

After a five-minute video review, referees awarded Canada the goal, with Kraemer picking up credit for her second of the night.

"We can't control it, so it's something that we didn't think about too much after that," U.S. coach Katie Lachapelle said. "They make the calls they make. They've got all the video review. They're doing their best, we're doing our best, and you can't do much about that."

In the end, it mattered little. The Americans struggled to generate offense the rest of the period.

The Americans had an opportunity to pull within a goal a little more than seven minutes into the final period, but Hall's penalty shot attempt hit Clark's pad.

With 3:34 left in the contest and Canada's Baxter in the box for cross-checking, the U.S. pulled Bergmann for a 6-on-4. The power play unraveled quickly with a misplayed puck along the blue line, followed shortly thereafter by a cross-checking penalty by Molly Jordan to wipe out the advantage.

"We've got another game we've got to play and those are learning moments that we can talk about, look through, and bring to that next game," Lachapelle said.

Both teams will take advantage of byes on Thursday as quarterfinals take place.

But tonight, it will be the Canadians who will relish a victory over their rivals. Tomorrow, preparation begins for a yet-to-be-determined opponent on Saturday in their quest for a second-consecutive gold medal.
"It gives the team momentum going into the elimination round," Kraemer said. "But at the end of the day it's the gold-medal game that matters. This game just gives us momentum."
Canada vs United States - 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship