On December 15th, Team USA played Team Canada at SAP Center as the final leg of their The Time is Now Tour. Many fans in San Jose came out to watch these two powerhouses in women’s hockey play, and there was excitement throughout the game.
The first period was scoreless, with stellar goaltending by USWNT goaltender Alex Rigsby, who made 11 saves and some big ones to keep the USWNT in the game early. Team USA scored first in the second period with a goal by Brianna Decker of the NWHL’s Boston Pride on the power play, after a great penalty kill to start the period. Team Canada scored two more goals in the second period by Haley Irwin (Calgary Inferno, CWHL) and Sarah Nurse (University of Wisconsin, NCAA) ending the second period in a 2-1 score with Canada in the lead.
In the third period, Team Canada scored the only other goal, coming from Marie-Philip Poulin (Les Canadiennes de Montreal, CWHL) after the end of the USWNT power play. Poulin will be one to watch in the Olympics, as she had both game-winning goals in the 2010 and 2014 gold medal games. The USWNT amped up their play towards the second half of the third period, but were unable to get back on the scoreboard. The game finished with a final of 3-1 in the second-to-last games between these two team before the 2018 Olympics.
The players of the game, chosen by the coaching staffs, were Brianna Decker for Team USA and Ann-Renee Desbiens (University of Wisconsin, NCAA). To me, the player who stood out most in this game was Rigsby, who made 33 saves and kept the USWNT in the game, making big saves when they needed them most.
Even though this game did not end up in a USWNT win, it was amazing to see these two teams play in person. I have watch USWNT play on TV, but getting watch two of the best teams in person is a experience I am so glad I have had. As someone who normally watches professional men’s hockey, watching two of the best teams in women’s hockey play against each other was an incredible experience an unforgettab. Even though there are some slightly different playing styles and different rules within women’s hockey, watching the skill of these player is incredible to see on TV and becomes even better when watching it in person.
There were so many fans at the game, there to support both Team Canada and the USWNT. As fans walked into SAP Center, they were handed American flags that were being waved all game, along with USA chants throughout the entire game. Even with only the lower bowl used as seating, it was filled. There was such an amazing atmosphere, where all of the fans were into the game. It was loud and crazy to see the passion for women’s hockey in the Bay Area.