The United States women’s national hockey team won the Four Nations Cup, 5-3, over Canada on Saturday afternoon thanks to an offensive burst in the third period. Forward Hilary Knight scored twice in the four-team tournament final. Defenseman Emily Pfalzer and forwards Brianna Decker and Kelli Stack all added goals of their own to win Four Nations for the second year in a row.
Both teams earned four penalties in the first two periods, with the game officials calling the game very tightly. Neither team was able to capitalize on the power play. Canada struck first in the game, with Marie-Philip Poulin scoring 3 minutes 40 seconds into the game, with assists from Natalie Spooner and Laura Fortino. Poulin would also add Canada’s consolation goal deep into the third period.
Laura Stacey tied the game up early in the third period for Canada, but it took less than a minute for Decker to reclaim the lead for the U.S. Knight added her goal three minutes later after Meghan Duggan produced a timely poke check at the blue line. Stack wrapped up scoring for the United States two minutes after that, and effectively took Canada out of the game despite eight minutes remaining on the clock.
Neither of the USA and Canada battles in this edition of the Four Nations Cup indicated the full potential of either team, though there were certainly some moments of brilliance from both. The final wasn’t a showcase game for either the USA’s Alex Rigsby nor Canada’s Emerance Maschmeyer.
The bigger question for the United States out of these two back-to-back games against Canada: consistency and passing. The team looked gassed for Friday’s final round-robin match, but the sloppiness in passing continued into Saturday’s game until the third period. Lapses in the U.S. defense directly resulted in most of Canada’s goals over the two days, and shouldn’t be blamed on testing out new defensemen pairs.
The third period looked like USA Hockey, and couldn’t have come at a better time. The United States also held Canada to silver for the fourth time in four tournaments.
The teams will get another look at each other next month when Canada visits the USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., on Dec. 17. The game between Canada and the U.S. is part of the first Team USA Winter Champions Series.