Americans return to the ice and beat Canada in World Tournament opener

PLYMOUTH, Mich., March 31 – American goalie Nicole Hensley stopped 18 shots including 10 in the third period as the U.S. women’s hockey team earned their 15th straight win at the World Championships Friday night with a 2-0 opening night win over rival Canada.

U.S. forwards Gigi Marvin (Buffalo) and Brianna Decker (Boston) had the goals as the Americans beat the Canadians for the sixth straight time at the World Championships. Canada swept a pair of games from the United States in December.

It was the first appearance by Team USA since the team and officials from USA Hockey signed a new four-year deal earlier this week. The American players threatened to boycott the tournament unless they could agree on a new deal that provides the American women additional compensation and equitable treatment.

For a time, USA Hockey was looking for replacement players until it became clear they had little support or success getting players and they returned to the negotiating table last weekend.

The Americans took a 1-0 lead in the second period when Buffalo’s Megan Bozek carried the puck down the right sideline, sailed behind the net and fired a quick pass across the crease to an open Decker, who redirected the puck into the net with 2:06 remaining in the first period.

“I knew what she would do after playing with her growing up,” Decker told Canadian broadcaster TSN between periods. “So I went to the spot (on the ice).”

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Hensley made some nice stops early in the third period to keep the Americans ahead. With 15:09 left in the game, Boston’s Gigi Marvin fired a puck toward the net that just deflected off a Canadian player. It was enough to let it get past Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados, who made 28 saves.

Connecticut Whale forwards Kelli Stack and Haley Skarupa played on the same line for a while. Skarupa had a pair of shots in the game while Stack had a nice shot across the front of the crease in the second period but couldn’t get it past Szabados.

The Americans (1-0) return to the ice on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. when they host Team Russia. The United States closes out Group A play against Finland on Monday night at 7:30 p.m.

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