Hilary Knight (Sun Valley, Idaho) scored twice and 10 other U.S. skaters registered points as the U.S. Women's National Team topped Canada, 5-2, here tonight in Saskatoon to win the 2018 Four Nations Cup.
"Whenever these two teams get together, it's always a great battle," said Bob Corkum, U.S. Women's National Team head coach. "We were able to score two goals and gain momentum early, take care of the puck and with some spectacular saves from Rigsby, we were able to get the job done."
Tonight's win marks the fourth consecutive Four Nations Cup title for the U.S. Women's National Team. The U.S. has claimed the title nine times (1997, 2003, 2008, 2011-12, 2015-18), finished second 12 times and third in the 2013 tournament. The U.S. holds an overall record of 55-5-5-23-2 (W-OTW-OTL-L-T) in 90 Three/Four Nations Cup games.
The U.S. struck first just 1:28 into the game when Knight scored on a wraparound to give Team USA an early 1-0 lead. The play started when Dani Cameranesi (Plymouth, Minn.) pulled the puck off the endboards and dropped it back for Knight, who quickly made her way to the front of the net and banged home the opening goal.
Canada evened the score just 2:21 after Knight's goal when Laura Fortino took a shot through traffic from the point that beat Alex Rigsby (Delafield, Wis.) high on the glove side.
With 3:29 remaining in the opening period, the U.S. regained the lead when Kelly Pannek (Plymouth, Minn.) carried the puck down the ice and sent a centering pass to Melissa Samoskevich (Sandy Hook, Conn.), who was streaking into the offensive zone. Samoskevich one-timed the pass just past the outstretched leg of Canadian goaltender Shannon Szabados to give the U.S. a 2-1 advantage.
Rigsby stood tall in net for the U.S. early in the second period when Cameranesi was sent to the penalty box for a holding the stick infraction. On the kill, Rigsby made three consecutive stops to help maintain Team USA's one goal advantage.
Just past the midway point of the second period, Sydney Brodt (North Oaks, Minn.) and Brianna Decker (Dousman, Wis.) charged down the ice on a two-on-one. Brodt carried the puck into the offensive zone and passed to Decker who scored from the top of the crease to put the U.S. up 3-1.
Just 24 seconds later, the U.S. scored again when Sidney Morin (Minnetonka, Minn.) fired a shot from the top of the right face-off circle that was deflected in by Knight for her second goal of the evening.
The U.S. extended its lead just 41 seconds into the the third period. Decker carried the puck through the neutral zone and down the wing before sending a pass through the seam to Kendall Coyne Schofield (Palos Heights, Ill.) who caught the puck on her back hand and tucked it past the left pad of Szabados for the fifth U.S. goal of the game.
Jaime Bourbonnais scored a power-play goal for Canada halfway through the final period to make the score 5-2, but the U.S. continued its strong defensive play to close out the contest and earn its fourth consecutive title at the Four Nations Cup.
Rigsby made 23 saves to earn her second victory of the tournament.
Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
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