The United States takes on Canada this morning at 9:30EST at the women’s World U18 championships at PSG Arena in Zlin, Czech Republic.
The stakes of this game....are actually pretty minimal. We’re still in the preliminary round, and both teams are already guaranteed a spot in the six-team medal round. The winner takes first place in Group A and receives a bye to the semifinals, but the women’s game internationally is still dominated by the US and Canada, and it is highly expected that they will meet in the gold medal game next week, as they have in each of the previous nine tournaments.
Still, today is about possibly setting a tone for the medal round, and above all, neither side wants to lose to them. It’s the US vs. Canada, and really, that’s all you need for a great game.
There will be a free live stream of the game here: http://u18worldwomen2017.iihf.com/en/live-stream/
For a few notes on the US roster, we have this post from when the team was announced.
The United States cruised through their first two games of play with a 6-1 win over Russia and a 4-0 win over Sweden. Most impressive about their victories has been the balance and depth that they’ve shown in their scoring. They got goals from five different scorers in the Russia win and four different scorers in the win over Sweden. All but six players on the team have a point through two games.
Leading the tournament in scoring with four points, in no surprise, is defenseman Cayla Barnes(Boston College), who recently spent some time with the senior women’s national team. She’s put in three goals from the blue line and added an assist, and her puck-moving ability will continue to be a big asset. The other leading scorer, which is more of a surprise, is Natalie Heising(Penn State). Heising has developed some quick chemistry with linemate Anneke Linser(Minnesota Duluth) and they’ve been very good offensively.
Grace Zumwinkle(Minnesota) and Taylor Heise(Minnesota) were expected to be offensive leaders on this team, but have been held quiet so far in the tournament with just one assist by Zumwinkle from them. Zumwinkle has been generating shots, however; she’s currently second in the tournament with 11 shots on goals, so she’s due to break out soon, hopefully in one of these big games.
It’ been a slightly rockier road for Canada in their first two games. They opened up the tournament with a 5-1 win over Sweden, but were tied heading into the third period against Russia before pulling out a 4-2 victory.
For the Canadians, their best players have been their best players. Their top line of Sophie Shirley(Wisconsin), Brette Pettet(Wisconsin), and Amy Potomak(Minnesota) go 1-2-3 in scoring, followed by their top D pairing of Emma Buckles(Harvard) and Olivia Knowles(Minnesota).
Shutting down that top group is a huge priority for the US, because they should have an advantage in terms of depth.
The majority of both of these rosters met this past August for a trio of games at the two countries’ annual Summer Series, so the two teams should be quiet familiar with each other. The US took two out of the three games in Calgary. But it’s always a battle when these two teams meet, and this should be no exception.