Canadian women beat U.S. to open pre-Olympic exhibition series

Caroline Ouellette
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The U.S. handed Canada defeat on Canadian ice at April’s World Championships. The Canadians returned the favor on Saturday night.

The three-time reigning Olympic champion defeated the U.S. 3-2 in Burlington, Vt., in the first of six pre-Olympic games between the two best women’s hockey nations.

They next play Thursday in Boisbriand, Quebec.

Full U.S.-Canada exhibition schedule

Vermont’s largest city was also the site of the 2012 World Championships, where Canada ousted the U.S. 5-4 in overtime in the gold-medal game.

The Americans had won three straight World Championships before that and, this year, came back to beat Canada at April’s World Championships in Ottawa.

The U.S. nearly erased a 3-0 deficit midway through the third period. Brianna Decker and Gigi Marvin scored in a four-minute span. The U.S. was outshot 29 to 18.

For Canada, Caroline Ouellette and Bailey Bram scored in the second period, and Tara Watchorn tacked one on in the third at the University of Vermont’s Gutterson Fieldhouse.

Hayley Wickenheiser, the all-time leading Olympic scorer, pitched in two assists.

The rivalry, with a history of not-so-friendly moments, was in form.

The U.S. started Brianne McLaughlin in goal, though Jessie Vetter is the presumed No. 1.

Canada countered with its first stringer, Shannon Szabados, the top goaltender from the 2010 Olympics who shut out the U.S. in the gold-medal game.

Szabados, 27, has played for men’s teams in Canada, including last season, when she set team records for shutouts (five) and goals-against average (1.58).

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