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      Canada’s women’s team beats USA in Game 7 to win Rivalry Series

      Canada rallied from a 3-0 series deficit for the second straight year.

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      It happened again.

      Just like during the 2022-23 season, the United States dominated the early games of the Rivalry Series, leading 3-0 by December. However, led by veteran experience, and clutch goaltending, Canada pulled off the reverse sweep to win the series in seven games.

      Following a 6-1 win in St. Paul on Sunday, Team Canada clinched the Rivalry Series for the third time in the event’s history.

      It was an eerily similar series. After winning the first three games, the Americans failed to sweep Canada, losing in a shootout in Game 4. The Canadians had to scrap their way to wins in the next two games, before blowing out Team USA in the final game.

      Canada won last year’s Rivalry Series by beating the U.S., 5-0.

      The biggest adjustment for Canada, despite getting outshot in the final two games, is that they were much better on special teams. They finally got a power play goal in Game 6 off the stick of Brianne Jenner, before Natalie Spooner and Marie-Philip Poulin scored on the player advantage in Game 7. It was Poulin’s lone goal in the Rivalry Series, but it ended up being the game winner on Sunday.

      Canada also received big-time performances from their goaltending. Emerance Maschmeyer stopped all 27 shots she faced in Regina in Game 6, posting the lone shutout of the series in a 3-0 win. Then, Ann-Renée Desbiens came in clutch for her country once again, stopping 24 of the 25 shots she faced in Game 7.

      Spooner, who scored twice in Game 7, ended up leading Canada with six points. All of her production came in the final three games of the series, as she sat out the first two legs.

      A total of 12 Canadian players ended up finding the back of the net, including Emma Maltais, who notched the final two goals for Canada, registering three points, in the victory at the Xcel Energy Center.

      Jenner and Laura Stacey each had five points for Canada. Poulin, who didn’t register a point in the first four games, ended up with four points.

      Hilary Knight led the series with six points, though she didn’t get on the scoresheet in the final four games. Alex Carpenter ended up with four, while Gabbie Hughes chimed in with three.

      Everything came down which team’s veteran stars stepped up. Canada’s goaltending was not going to be outdone by USA’s Aerin Frankel and Nicole Hensley. With Spooner in the lineup, it seemed to have taken the pressure off Poulin, allowing Captain Canada to play a little more freely.

      Along with Knight, Kendall Coyne Schofield was unable to get anything going offensively. Like Spooner, she did not play in the first four games of the series, but she never really seemed comfortable, and did gel with the group over the past week.

      Team USA hasn’t won the Rivalry Series since the 2019-20 season.

      There is no question, this is a letdown for the Americans. Once again, they had a chance to show their historic rivals they can beat them, regardless of who is in the lineup. This presumably gives Canada the edge heading into the World Championships in Utica later on in April.

      That said, even though they blew a 3-0 series lead to Canada last season, the U.S. got the last laugh, beating the Canadians to win gold at the 2023 World Championship in Brampton.

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