We’re now less than two months away from the Women’s World Championships and Canada and USA have played just two games against each other this season.
Okay, so that’s actually pretty normal. However, it’s not an ideal situation for Canada and USA to participate in one tournament all season when their counterparts in Europe have played a rotating series of tournaments and have a pretty good idea how their teams are playing and how well they match up against a lot of their opponents.
Thus, the Rivalry series. Three games, best against the best, for bragging rights, pride... and a little bit of practice. And hey, with the Leafs on a West Coast swing, there’s plenty of time to watch.
How to Watch
All three games will be broadcast live on TSN, RDS and the NHL network.
When: Tuesday, February 12, 7:00 pm EST
Where: Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario
Channels: TSN 2, RDS2, NHL Network
Tickets for this one have been sold out for a while, so your best bet is watching from home
When: Thursday, February 14, 7:00 pm EST
Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario
Channels: TSN 4, NHL Network (live), and RDS2 (tape delayed to 11 pm)
Tickets: Available through Ticketmaster, and plenty of good seats are left. Prices start at $23.75 for upper bowl and go up to $57.75 for the best lower bowl seats
When: Sunday, February 17, 12:00 pm EST
Where: Little Caesar’s Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Channels: TSN 3 and 5, RDS, NHL Network
Tickets: Available through Ticketmaster, mostly lower level General Admission left. There’s a 4-pack deal going on and single tickets are going for $11.75 up to about $30.
In an unusual move, both teams are entirely made up of professional players. 2018 Olympians who are still in college, like Canadian Emily Clark and Americans Megan Keller, Maddie Rooney, Cayla Barnes, Kali Flanagan and Kelly Pannek will not be playing in this series.
When the schedule for the Rivalry Series was announced there was some pushback from NCAA fans, who suggested it might be disruptive in the run up to playoffs. As a Furies fan I can tell you it’s plenty disruptive in the run up to CWHL playoffs but whether there was some pushback from the NCAA or USA Hockey decided to take a chance to look at other players, I can’t say. However it does suggest that, at least for the Americans, this week’s lineup will not be an exact match for what we’ll see in Finland in April.
Sidney Morin is the only player on either team who has flown in from Europe to play the series. Morin is currently a defender with Linköping HC, who are in the SDHL playoffs. With 38 points in 32 games this season, it’s safe to say her team would have preferred she stay in Sweden.
If you have read anything about this series in the last few weeks, you already know that Ann-Sophie Bettez is finally making her debut with Team Canada at the senior level. Currently second in CWHL scoring with 44 points in 24 games the 31 year old dropped off Hockey Canada’s radar about ten years ago. Bettez is the CWHL active career points leader and second all-time with 261 points in 168 games—you don’t have to be a Canadiennes de Montréal fan to appreciate the fact that she’s finally getting her due on the international stage.
The only other rookie on Team Canada for this series is Toronto Furies rookie and Robert Morris University alumna Brittany Howard, who got herself invited to camp this past summer for the first time and turned a few heads. (EDIT: This is incorrect, Calgary Inferno rookie Rebecca Leslie also makes her senior team debut.)
Players making their senior-level debuts for Team USA are defender Savannah Harmon of the Buffalo Beauts, a two-time national champion with Clarkson University, and former Boston College goalie Katie Burt, now of the Boston Pride. (EDIT: Buffalo Beaut and Isobel Cup champion Hayley Scamurra has been around women’s hockey long enough that we forgot she’s a Team USA rookie too.)
Whether or not there’s a medal on the line, Canada vs USA is always the best match-up there is in women’s hockey. Play will be fast, it’ll be physical, and it’ll be damn entertaining.