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Canada ties Rivalry Series as Maschmeyer stymies United States

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REGINA — In a must-win situation, goalie Emerance Maschmeyer came up big Friday, backstopping Canada to a 3-0 victory over the United States in Game 6 of the Rivalry Series.

Maschmeyer, who plays for Ottawa in the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL), made 27 saves to give Canada the opportunity to cap a remarkable series comeback in Game 7 on Sunday in St. Paul, Minn. Canada dropped the first three games of the series but has bounced back with three straight wins.

The U.S. outshot Canada 20-11 over the first two periods but Maschmeyer was up to the task.

“She started on time when maybe the rest of us didn't and she kept us in it … she got that win for us. She’s my best friend so I’m super happy for her and coming celebrate with her,” said Canada forward Emily Clark, a Saskatoon product who scored in the third period along with Natalie Spooner and Sarah Nurse.

Maschmeyer was named the player-of-the-game for Canada, but her performance wasn’t a surprise for her teammates.

“We’ve seen her have huge games, especially now we get to see her play a lot more with Ottawa as she's getting way more games under your belt and she was on fire tonight,” said Spooner. “She made some big saves for us and kept us in there, especially in the first period. We didn't play how we wanted to play at all and she made some big saves for us.”

Maschmeyer had her best work in the second period when Canada ran into penalty issues, taking three minors during the frame. On the first penalty kill, the U.S. peppered Maschmeyer and she responded with four quality saves.

There’s an adage that the goalie has to be the best penalty killer on a team and Maschmeyer was a prime example of that on Friday night.

“We had a lot of PKs, which we don't want to have, but as a goalie, those are some fun moments to come up big for your team. It feels good. My role is to come up big when we're down a player. That’s my role. I enjoy PK. I think it’s a lot of fun,” said Maschmeyer.

With U.S. defenceman Megan Keller in the penalty box, Spooner scored the winner 58 seconds into the third period. As Canada broke into the U.S. zone, Spooner took a cross-ice pass from Marie-Philip Poulin, cut to the net and beat goalie Aerin Frankel with a shot high on the glove side.

Poulin, Canada’s captain, set up two goals with incredible passes, one to Spooner and one to Clark. Her teammates appreciate Poulin’s skill level.

“I saw her, and I saw that she saw me, but I saw two sticks in the way and the way that she sauced it right over those two sticks, it was it was beautiful. She's the best player in the world and she can pull plays out of nowhere and that's kind of what she did. She got the puck and made stuff happen,” said Spooner.

Clark had a great chance to increase Canada’s lead seven minutes into the period when Poulin sprang her on a breakaway with a fantastic cross-ice pass. Clark broke in on the left wing and beat Frankel on the glove side only to have the shot ring off the far post.

Clark got the upper hand on Frankel minutes later on a strong individual effort to put Canada up 2-0. Cutting to the net off the left-wing boards, she muscled her way past a U.S. defenceman before depositing a backhand past Frankel.

Nurse sealed the victory with 4:25 left in the third period, taking a pass from behind the net and slipping a quick wrist shot past Frankel.

Canada has a chance Sunday to cap an impressive comeback with a fourth straight victory to win the series. After stumbling out of the gate with three losses, Canada has found a rhythm and although the team has a few new additions from the previous Rivalry Series, Clark is confident heading into Game 7.

“We have a very special group, staff down to players, and I think being able to lean on past experience is huge for us and our confidence. Obviously, rosters are different but there's definitely a core group and core experience that you can lean on and just a belief that this group has done it before,” said Clark.

The victory improves Canada’s record in Saskatchewan to 10-2 and 3-0 in games in Regina.

Heading into Friday’s game, the U.S. won the first three games of the series (3-1 on Nov. 8 in Tempe; 5-2 on Nov. 11 in Los Angeles; and, 3-2 in overtime on Dec. 14 in Kitchener, Ont.) Canada responded with victories in the next two games (3-2 in a shootout on Dec. 16 in Sarnia, Ont.; and, 4-2 on Feb. 7 in Saskatoon).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2024.