Amanda Kessel in action against Canada in the 2021 IIHF Women's World Championship gold medal game played on Aug. 31, 2021 in Calgary, Canada.
Whatever happened to home ice advantage?
That concept has gone completely out the window to date in this year’s pre-Olympic “My Why Tour” between the U.S. women’s national hockey team and its Canadian rivals, in which only the visiting team has won in each of four meetings.
The Americans scored a pair of power-play goals in the second period of their meeting Tuesday night at Ottawa’s TD Place Arena to defeat Canada, 2-0, and even their nine-game series, 2-2. After losing the first two games on American soil, the U.S. swept two straight in Canada.
Three home games remain for Team USA: Dec. 15 and 17 at Centene Community Ice Center in St. Louis and at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Dec. 20.
After a scoreless first period, Canada opened with a good offensive flurry early in the second frame. But U.S. goaltender Maddie Rooney made five saves — on her way to stopping 26 shots and recording the shutout — as her team’s penalty-killers thwarted a Canadian power play opportunity.
That appeared to provide the spark that the U.S. needed.
The Americans scored the first goal of the night on a power play of its own when three-time Olympic medalist Hilary Knight redirected a Megan Keller drive from the point with 9:28 remaining in the period to seize a 1-0 lead. Cayla Barnes also assisted on the score. It was Knight’s third goal in the last two games.
A pair of Canada penalties gave the Americans a 5-3 advantage in skaters shortly thereafter, and they capitalized with an Amanda Kessel goal that made it 2-0 entering the final 20 minutes.
On the other side of the ledger, the Canadians were unsuccessful on their four power play chances.
Canada went with an empty net in the game’s waning minutes in an effort to close the gap, but Rooney was equal to the task, shutting the door to preserve the shutout.
The series’ closeness is reflected in the fact that each team has scored eight goals in its initial four games.
The final 23-player roster for the U.S. Olympic women’s team will be announced Jan. 1 at the NHL Winter Classic in Minneapolis.