With just two practices after two weeks of a contract standoff, the women of the United States National Team put their newfound money where their mouths are.
The U.S. defeated Canada, 2-0, Friday night in the opening game for both teams in the IIHF Women's World Championship in USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich.
It was the first game for American women after they won a new contract from USA Hockey just days before the tournament opened. The United States is the defending gold medalist at the Women's World Championship while Canada is the defending Olympic gold medalist.
The U.S. finally solved goaltender Shannon Szabados late in the second period. Megan Bozek entered the zone with speed, blew by the Canadian defense and wrapped around the net. She then passed to an open Brianna Decker on the other side of Szabados who tapped the puck in for the game's first goal with about two minutes left in the period.
"I knew what" Bozek "was going to do, playing against her in the past," Decker said on the NHL Network. "She went for the wrap-around. I got myself backdoor and just kind of tapped it in. Szabados is a great goaltender. We've faced her a lot in the past. You've got to get as many shots and take away her eyes. That's how you're going to beat her."
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) April 1, 2017
American goaltender Nicole Hensley made a huge save early in the third period as Canada poured on pressure. But the U.S. responded and Gigi Marvin got a shot through from the point for a 2-0 lead with 15:11 left. Hensley finished with 18 saves in the shut out.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) April 1, 2017
The U.S. plays its second preliminary round game against Russia at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The game will be broadcast live on the NHL Network. The Russians opened the tournament with a 2-1 win over Finland, scoring both goals in the third including the game-winner on the power play with 50 seconds left in regulation.
Team USA will have a day off before finishing the opening round on Monday with a 7:30 p.m. game against Finland. That game will be streamed live on NHL.com and broadcast on delay on the NHL Network at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.