CALGARY – The Americans came out on top in the latest chapter of the women’s hockey rivalry between Canada and the U.S.
The Canadians fell short in their bid to win the first women’s world under-18 women’s hockey championship with a stinging 5-2 loss to the U.S. on Saturday.
Canada won the gold medal in the inaugural women’s world hockey championship in 1990 in Ottawa and captured eight of nine titles after that.
But the U.S. will carry the mantle as the first champion of the world under-18 tournament in 2008 in Calgary.
“Whether it’s the first, the second, the last, we want to win them all, so we got the first one and we’re off to a good start,” said jubilant U.S. coach Katey Stone.
Amanda Kessel, sister of Boston Bruins forward Phil Kessel, Brooke Ammerman, Meagan Mangene, Kendall Coyne and Brianna Decker scored for the U.S., who rattled off four straight goals before Canada countered with one late in the second period.
“Beating them in their home barn with all their fans here was amazing,” declared Kessel. “I won a national championship last year and it doesn’t even compare to this.”
Carolyne Prevost of Sarnia, Ont., and Jessica Jones of Picton, Ont., replied for the Canadians, who were devastated following the loss of the gold.
“Team Canada is not used to losing,” goaltender Delayne Brian said. “They came out strong and we never did really get it back.
“All week we had blowout games and I don’t think we were quite expecting them to come out so strong.”
U.S. goaltender Alyssa Grogan stopped 26 of 28 shots for the victory, while Winnipeg’s Brian made 22 saves on 27 shots in the loss.
Grogan was named the tournament’s top goaltender, Canadian captain Lauriane Rougeau of Beaconsfield, Que., was chosen best defenceman and forward Marie-Philip Poulin of Beauceville, Que., given the nod as top forward.
Poulin and teammate Camille Dumais tied for the tournament lead in points with 14 apiece. The 16-year-old Poulin was a standout for Canada.
With her speed, smarts and playmaking ability, she could earn an invitation to try out for the Olympic team for 2010.
But Poulin was fighting back tears of disappointment Saturday.
“They played well and we missed our chances,” she said. “They were pretty fast and they played well as a team and their power-play was very good.”
Canada had sailed through the tournament, outscoring the opposition 45-4 heading into the final.
But the U.S. was a faster team than Canada, which meant the Canadians were beaten to the puck, forechecked relentlessly in their own zone and had trouble shaking defenders when they had possession.
The Canadians were better in the back half of the game at using their own speed to generate scoring chances, but the damage had already been done.
The Americans scored twice in the first period and another pair in the second before Prevost scored a power-play goal at 18:17.
That goal gave the hosts a little lift heading into the third and Jones scored another at 2:20.
Kessel, however, stifled Canada’s comeback attempt with a power-play goal at 12:14.
Canada swept the U.S. in a three-game series last August in Ottawa by a total score of 12-4. This Canadian team had 15 players from that edition, while the U.S. had 11.
“It wasn’t the same team we played in Ottawa, but I wasn’t surprised by the strength of the team,” Canadian head coach Melody Davidson said.
“You could slide a piece of paper between us and the U.S. regardless of the age group. It was their night and it was well deserved. They earned it and played well.”
Canada was outshot 13-9 in the first period, but had a 13-8 edge in the second. Grogan, however, gobbled everything up and did not give up many rebounds.
Tickets to Saturday’s championship game were sold out the previous day.
Attendance over the 18 games played was about 10,000 at Father David Bauer Arena, which holds about 2,000 people, and the adjacent Norma Bush Arena, which holds about 300.
The Czech Republic beat Sweden 4-2 in the earlier bronze medal game, which was a triumph for the Czechs as their national women’s team has yet to qualify for the ‘A’ world championship.
Notes: Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Russia finished fifth to eighth. … The site of the 2009 world women’s under-18 championship has yet to be announced.