Simms scores in OT to lift US to 1-0 win over Canada in preliminary round of women's hockey worlds

UTICA, New York (AP) — Coach John Wroblewski’s bid to inject youth and speed to the United States women’s hockey lineup proved too much for rival Canada in their preliminary round-closing showdown at the world championships on Monday.

Kirsten Simms, one of four college newcomers making their tournament debuts for the U.S., scored 3:38 into overtime of a 1-0 win over Canada and clinch the Americans the Group A title heading into the playoffs.

Aerin Frankel stopped 26 shots for her second shutout of the tournament and the defending world champions finished Group A play with a 4-0 record. The goal was Simms’ first in world championship play, and follows her sophomore season at Wisconsin in which the 19-year-old led women’s college hockey in scoring.

Ann-Renee Desbiens stopped 29 shots as Canada (3-1) finished second in Group A play.

The Americans advance to the quarterfinals on Thursday, when they’ll play Group B’s third-place team, which will be determined after preliminary round play ends on Tuesday. Canada will face Sweden in the quarterfinals. It’s a rematch of last year’s world championship quarterfinals, when Canada pulled out a 3-2 overtime win.

In other preliminary round action, Germany clinched the Group B title with a 1-0 win against Sweden on Franziska Feldmeier's goal with 11:54 left in regulation and Sandra Abstreiter's 32-save outing. Jenni Hiirikoski had a goal and three assists as Finland improved to 1-3 in Group A play with a 5-2 win over Switzerland (0-3).

Speed was the difference in an outing the Americans wore down the experience-laden Canadians by outshooting them 7-0 in the three-on-three overtime period.

“We have some speedy players that when you’re in a three-on-three situation, they can generate some momentum for us, which is great,” U.S. captain Hilary Knight said. “It’s a fast game. It’s the fastest you’ll see, U.S. versus Canada. And it’s a lot of fun to play in from the player’s perspective.”

The outcome was decided when Simms scored to convert a three-on-one break after Canada’s Brianne Jenner fell and coughed up the puck in the U.S. zone. Caroline Harvey led the rush up the left wing and centered to Simms, who was able to get off a shot despite her stick being pulled from behind by Canada’s Jocelyne Larocque.

Larocque’s back-checking changed the trajectory of the puck, which fooled Desbiens in beating her low between the skates.

“Obviously, a super surreal moment,” said Simms, who has been playing on a so-called “all-rookie line” rounded out by Wisconsin teammate Laila Edwards and Ohio State’s Joy Dunne.

“I feel like we were really pushing and playing downhill the whole third period, and just stuck to our game,” she added. “So I feel like when we came out in overtime, we knew that we were just going to finish it out.”

The U.S, which defeated Canada 6-3 in the world championship gold-medal game last year, bounced back after losing four straight to the Canadians in a best-of-seven Rivalry Series held this past winter.

“It is disappointing. You never want to lose, especially to the U.S.,” Canada captain Marie-Philip Poulin said. “It was fast, quick, physical. That’s what we were expecting. They have a great team.”

And there remains a very good likelihood the cross-border rivals will meet once again in the tournament final on Sunday.

The United States, which has won 10 gold medals to the Canada’s 12, improved to 18-17 against the Canadians in world championship play — and the teams are now tied in having scored 98 goals each against each other.

Frankel was sharp playing in front of a defense that limited most of Canada's shots from the outside. Among her best stops were getting a piece of Emma Maltais’ hard shot from the left circle with six minutes left in regulation, and turning aside Natalie Spooner’s shot on a two-on-one break with 3:30 left in the second period.


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