Kelli Stack

Jessie Vetter

U.S. women’s hockey evens series with Canada in shootout

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Make it three straight for the U.S. over Canada.

Goalie Jessie Vetter stopped all three Canadian shootout attempts after the U.S. squandered a 2-0 lead in the third period for a 3-2 victory in St. Paul, Minn., on Saturday. There were no fights after last week’s line brawl (video here).

“[The shootout] puts our kids on the hot seat, it puts their kids on the hot seat and it’s time to execute and deliver,” U.S. coach Katey Stone said, according to The Associated Press. “At the end of the day, that’s what we’re going to have to do.”

The U.S. drew even with Canada, 3-3, in its series of games leading into the Sochi Olympics in February. They’ll play one more game, Monday in Toronto, before the U.S. Olympic Team is named on New Year’s Day at the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Americans have won all three games between the rivals since Canadian coach Dan Church‘s shock resignation Dec. 12. Longtime NHL player and former Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen took over Dec. 17.

“I don’t think there was any less intensity tonight, but it was directed towards the game instead of anything else,” Dineen said, according to the AP.

In the shootout, Vetter stopped Canadian veterans Jayna HeffordCaroline Ouellette and Meghan Agosta-MarcianoHilary Knight potted a shootout goal for the U.S.

“We’re an extremely talented team, but we still have a long way to go and we’re going to get there,” Knight said, according to the AP. “We’re confident with our game plan. … You got to find a way to win, dig deep, and we did that tonight.”

Kelli Stack and Alex Carpenter scored in the first and second periods, respectively, for the U.S. Agosta-Marciano and Marie-Philip Poulin answered midway through the third.

Canada already named its Olympic team, led by six-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser, who returned following a one-game absence due to a lower-body injury Saturday.

Top U.S. forward Amanda Kessel, the reigning NCAA Player of the Year, did not play. She has not played at all against Canada this fall or winter due to a lower-body injury, but U.S. coach Katey Stone said Kessel will be ready for the Olympics.

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