Hockey

Strong Prelims Earn Bye for Team USA

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Amanda Kessel (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Amanda Kessel (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

If you thought the solidarity shown by the US Women’s National Hockey Team was strong during the dispute with USA Hockey last month, you should see what the squad looks like on the ice. The preliminary round has concluded in the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship in Plymouth, Michigan, and Team USA finds itself seeded first with a bye heading into the semifinals on Thursday.

Ranked first worldwide by IIHF heading into the tournament, the Women’s National Hockey Team defeated Team Canada 2-0 on Friday. Brianna Decker opened the scoring assisted by Megan Bozek. Gisele Marvin scored the game’s second and final tally unassisted. Team USA failed to capitalize on two powerplay opportunities.

On Saturday, Team USA steamrolled past Russia with a score of 7-0. Seven players found their way onto the scoresheet, all with multi-point games. Brianna Decker and Kendall Coyne registered two goals and two assists each. Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson also had two goals, her second being the only power play goal of the game. Her twin sister, Monique Lamoureux-Morando recorded three assists. Overall, Team USA went one-for-four on the power play against Russia.

On Monday, Team USA defeated Finland 5-3. Hilary Knight recorded two powerplay goals and Kessel assisted on both. Coyne added a powerplay goal and powerplay assist of her own. With the score tied at three and under eight minutes left in regulation, Marvin found Hannah Brandt cutting to the net for a beauty feed. Lamoureux-Davidson would seal the deal with an empty netter with exactly one minute left on the clock.

Whereas Team USA went just one-for-six on the powerplay in the first two games, the squad cashed in three times on five opportunities. Special teams has been instrumental in Team USA’s success overall, as the Americans lead the eight teams with a 36.36% powerplay efficiency. Additionally, Team USA is flawless on the penalty kill.

Another reason for Team USA’s success so far in the tournament has been its high-quality scoring chances. Of the fourteen goals scored, one being an empty netter from the circle, 11 goals have been scored on shots or rebounds below or at the hash marks, or just outside of the crease. Only two goals have been scored in the high slot area. Team USA is doing a terrific job of crashing the net and finding shooting opportunities in close. The ladies are keeping their game simple in this regard, and clearly highly effective.

In the crease, Nicole Hensley and Madeline Rooney each have shutouts against Canada and Russia, respectively. Alex Rigsby, having tended the net against the Fins, has a 3.00 goals against average with a save percentage of .875. Hensley has made 18 saves, Rooney with 14, and Rigsby has turned aside 21 on 24 shots on goal.

Team USA will face the winner Thursday of  today’s matchup between Russia and Germany. Canada will also play next on Thursday, facing the winner of today’s tilt between Finland and Sweden. The medal games are set to take place on Friday, April 7. Team USA games can be be viewed via live stream on NHL.com, and the Women’s National Hockey Team’s medal game will be broadcast live on NHL Network.

Evan Schleifer

Evan Schleifer

Evan is the Hockey Editor for DoubleGSports.com. He provides coverage of the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Philadelphia Flyers, as well as some league-wide content.
Evan Schleifer

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