When It Comes To Hockey Rivalries, No One Beats U.S. And Canada Women’s Series

One of the greatest rivalries in all of sports returns to the ice tonight as the U.S. Women’s National Team and Canada face off tonight in the first game of the 2019 Rivalry Series, a three-game series between the two women’s hockey powers.


The three-game series kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. (EST) in London, Ont., and shifts to the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Thursday before wrapping up Sunday at noon at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, as part of Hockey Week in America. All three games will be broadcasted on NHL Network.


Sparked by the  excitement of the thrilling gold-medal game at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, the Rivalry Series is another clash of the hockey titans that fans have been clamoring for. The two teams most recently faced off in the 2018 Four Nations Cup in November, with the U.S. prevailing in both games, including 5-2 in the championship tilt.


Although there’s no gold medal or world championship title on the line, both countries are poised to bring their best to the ice with bragging rights and national pride on the line.


The stage is massive and the three matches couldn’t have come as at a better time for the sport. Riding a month of momentum from Kendall Coyne Schofield’s appearance at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition, the women’s game has been in the spotlight in recent weeks. On top of that, the NWHL’s All-Star Game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., eclipsed 6,000 fans this past weekend.


The chance to play in front of big crowds, and populate NHL arenas is something that the women’s hockey players have been striving for.


“It’s something that we’ve been asking for, for a while,” said Dani Cameranesi, a forward on the 2018 U.S. Olympic squad. “There was a lot of momentum coming off of the Olympics and the gold-medal game and people finally seeing what women’s hockey is made of and how great it actually is. 


“I think that people are finally starting to get a taste of what we can do and they want to see more of it. It’s great to finally be seen and show what we’re made of.”


The U.S. roster boasts 14 members from that gold-medal winning squad, and three additional players who won silver at  the 2014 Olympics.


With the series being limited to post-graduate players, it’s a different composition for head coach Bob Corkum’s second showing with the group. There are 12 returning players from their Four Nations Cup squad.


However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The U.S. contingent held a mid-December training camp in Plymouth, Mich., which helped grow familiarity, and the elimination of the college counterparts will shine a light on the depth that the U.S. holds.


“It’s a great opportunity for some post-graduate players that may not have gotten an opportunity to play at Four Nations to get this opportunity to be evaluated,” Corkum said.


Among the three newcomers sporting the U.S. sweater for the first time at the national level are goaltender Katie Burt, forward Hayley Scamurra and defender Savannah Harmon.


Burt had an eventful week, between appearing in the NWHL All-Star Game and having the opportunity to practice with the Predators. Still, the first overall selection of the 2017 NWHL draft, to the Boston Pride, is brimming at the challenge of facing Canada’s most fearsome shooters.


“I can’t wait,” she said. “Anytime you get to wear the USA sweater is special. To get to make my debut, hopefully, against Canada over the next few days should be really special and I’m really excited.”


The three-game series is expected to produce the exciting brand of hockey that accompanies the skillset, devotion, sacrifice, and commitment of the athletes on display. All three contests being on NHL Network should help showcase the rapidly growing women’s game even more.


Veteran defender Megan Bozek said it best.


“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said the 2014 Olympic silver medalist. “Any opportunity to play on home soil, against your biggest rival, is just incredible. 


“Having that game in Detroit we’re hoping to see a lot of fans out there. It’s so good to get to showcase our talent and our sport, so we’re hopeful to see new faces and some familiar faces out there. If you want to see some great hockey and watch one of the greatest rivalries in sports I’d recommend everyone coming out to Little Caesars Arena on Sunday.”

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