By JOHN MARSHALL – AP Sports Writer
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) – Hilary Knight has played in four Olympics, 13 world championships and has been part of the US women’s national team since 2007.
Now the captain of the Americans at 34, she may be getting better instead of slowing down.
Knight had a goal and an assist, Aerin Frankel stopped 31 shots and the United States beat Canada 3-1 in the Championship Series opener on Wednesday night.
“She just seems to come out of nowhere and find targets,” said Canadian Nurse Sara. “But of course she’s a very talented player in the world and she doesn’t miss much.”
The Americans won the last time these rivals met, scoring four unanswered goals to beat Canada 6-3 in the gold medal game of the IIHF World Championship in April.
Canada had the early jump in the first of seven games in the 2023-24 edition of the Championship Series, but Frankel made some tough saves to keep the Canadians from scoring.
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Team USA scored first on a goal by Knight in the closing seconds of the first period, and Canada tied it on a goal by Brianne Jenner in the second at Mullett Arena, home of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes.
Taylor Heise, the No. 1 overall pick, scored. 1 in the inaugural PWHL draft, early in the third period to put the USA up 2-1, and Alex Carpenter sealed it by scoring off a turnover with 1:20 left in regulation.
Emerance Maschmeyer had 23 saves for Canada.
Game 2 of the series takes place on Saturday in Los Angeles before most of the players report to training camps for the Professional Women’s Hockey League next week.
“I was really hoping for a better start than we did or a little more electricity from our young players,” USA coach John Wroblewski said. “But sometimes that nervousness can put you in a place where you’re ending up. It took us a while to settle in.”
Frankel was sharp in the first period, stopping Jessie Eldridge from point-blank range and Ella Shelton on a late power play.
Maschmeyer also made some tough stops, including against Murch on a short break. Maschmeyer couldn’t get back into position after the rebound and Knight turned into a backhander with eight seconds left.
“Our team put together a lot of good plays tonight,” Knight said.
Jenner tied it midway through the second, tapping in a rebound of her own shot past Frankel after the American allowed her to skate freely through the slot.
Canada’s Kristin O’Neill had a goal thrown early in the third period for using a high stick. Heise scored a few minutes later on a rebound that caromed out to the right circle, then Carpenter slipped a backhander between Mashmeyer’s pads.
“Managing the puck, leaving us with too many plays,” Jenner said. “You can’t really do that and not expect the other team to take advantage of it.”
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