2 Australia three weeks ago in New Zealand. That’s been a major benefit for young members of the squad. “For the youth of our team to have that exposure at this point in their development is just phenomenal,” the coach said. “The majority of our team, 11 players, have five years of experience or less. For them to step up and play at the level they are right now is just invaluable, to have that experience both on the court and in competition.” Those young players have had to learn quickly that no game can be taken for granted. Every game is monumentally important for their opponent and they must view it at the same level. “Teams, when they play us, it’s their Super Bowl, gold-medal game,” Gumbert said. “They’d like nothing more than beating us so we take it very seriously.” And then there’s the rivalry with North American neighbor Canada, which knocked the United States out of gold medal contention in London last year with a 50-49 win in the semifinal. Since then, the U.S. has regained its world No. 1 ranking. “There’s that built-in rivalry and it’s like playing your cousins,” the coach said. “Nothing needs to be said. Let’s go out and play.” While the United States and Canada have been in the same tournament since the Paralympics, this will be the first since then in which the two rugby powers will meet.
(Photo: Brian Jenkins, for the Burlington Free Press) Story Highlights Canadians build 3-0 lead, hang on to win by a goal U.S. coach: “We played probably 18 minutes of really hard-nosed USA hockey, so we’ve got a ways to go” Scuffle breaks out at end after USA player collides with Canadian goalie SHARE 4 CONNECT 8 TWEET COMMENTEMAILMORE BURLINGTON, Vt. – It’s a long road to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and two North American rivals took one more step along the way as Canada held fast for a 3-2 victory against the USA women’s hockey team at Gutterson Fieldhouse on Saturday night. “You better be ready to play when the puck drops and play 60 minutes of hockey,” said USA coach Katie Stone after her team turned in a lackluster opening 40 minutes. “We played probably 18 minutes of really hard-nosed USA hockey, so we’ve got a ways to go,” Stone said after Canada built a 3-0 lead and absorbed the USA’s late two-goal counterattack. “We kind of floundered a little bit early on but we’ll get there,” Stone said. “The good news is we came on as the game went on. We scored two goals, we put a ton of pressure on them at the end We need to start faster.” Canada had the edge in offensive zone time in a scoreless first period, netted two goals in the second and pushed the lead to 3-0 early in the third. The USA broke through with a two-player advantage power play goal at mid-third, cut the deficit to one with 5:31 remaining and drove hard to the finish. Those final minutes included not only several good USA chances but a skirmish that earned two players on each team five-minute roughing majors and game misconducts after USA forward Jocelyne Lamoureux collided with Canada goalie Shannon Szabados at 16:53. Szabados sprawled on the ice and her teammates came to her defense, setting off a lengthy tussle in the corner. “It happens from time to time,” said longtime Canadian team member Hayley Wickenheiser of the scuffle, recalling a 2010 incident. In the first period, Canada had a 5-4 edge in shots that failed to reflect its territorial control.