By Gabrielle Scheder-Bieschin | Dec. 16, 2017, 2:23 a.m. (ET)
Brianna Decker (C) controls the puck against Blayre Turnbull (L) and Jocelyne Larocque of Canada at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on Dec. 3, 2017 in St. Paul, Minn.

 

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- With the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 less than two months away, the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team continued its U.S. Olympic Team Trials games in San Jose on Friday night, when, despite goaltender Alex Rigsby’s 33 saves, the U.S. ultimately fell to longtime rival Canada with a score of 3-1.

It marked Team USA’s second loss to Canada in the two-game U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

Rigsby had a standout performance in the first period, blocking all 11 shots she faced.

“I just go into every game trying to put my team in the best position to win,” Rigsby explained.

She followed through on that pledge. Despite Canada out-shooting the U.S. 11-7, the game remained scoreless after the first period.

The second period looked to be stronger for Team USA. With Canada’s Jennifer Wakefield called for tripping, the U.S. went on the power play after less than two minutes of play. The team capitalized on the advantage, with Brianna Decker scoring off an assist from Hilary Knight. The lead would hold for half the period, but with 7:03 left to play in the second, Canada’s Haley Irwin evened the score, sending a backhanded shot just past Rigsby’s left leg.

Despite several more shots on goal – including a breakaway by Kendall Coyne – the U.S. would end the period behind, 2-1, after a controversial goal by Canada’s Sarah Nurse. While the shot was originally waved off when a pile-up occurred at the net, an official review would award a goal to Canada.

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In the third period, Team USA would outshoot Canada, 9-7, but through a quick goal by captain Marie-Philip Poulin and a strong showing from goalie Ann-Reneé Desbiens, Canada would expand the lead and win the game with a final score of 3-1.

Despite the loss, the Team USA continues to stay positive as the players look ahead to their upcoming games.

“We had this experience, and now we’re going to put it in the past, learn from it, and be ready to go for the next game,” Rigsby commented.

Coach Robb Stauber also walked away with some praise for the team. “We played hard until the end,” he noted. “As a coaching staff, we really respect that.”

The game marked Team USA’s seventh against fellow powerhouse Canada this season as the teams prepare for the upcoming Olympic Winter Games. Team USA will have a chance to even the eight-game series on Sunday, Dec. 17 in Edmonton, Alberta.

After releasing Annie Pankoswki last week, the national team now consists of 25 players. This game, along with the upcoming game on Sunday, will help decide the 23 players who will go to the PyeongChang Games. The final Olympic roster for Team USA is expected to be announced on Jan. 1.

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