Whether it’s the World Championships, the NCAA championships or the Under-22 Championships, still no one can find an answer to Minnesota’s Kelly Stephens and Natalie Darwitz.
Stephens scored two second-period power play goals and Darwitz added some insurance in the third to carry the United States to a 3-1 victory over Canada in the first game of the teams’ annual Under-22 series. Colgate’s Rebecca Lahar stopped 20 of 21 shots for the U.S. in her international debut. Canadian goaltender Brittony Chartier was as good as advertised in stopping 28 of 31 shots, but she went home as the tough-luck loser.
The U.S. Under-22 power play, which can feature as many as four players from the U.S. national team, struck first at 3:05 of the second period when Stephens banged in the rebound off of a shot by Wisconsin’s Molly Engstrom. Stephens extended the advantage to 2-0 at 11:36 when she deflected in a screen shot by Brown’s Amy McLaughlin. Canada managed just eight shots for the first two periods, reminiscent of the 2003 Canadian Under-22 team that averaged just 12 shots per game.
The Canadians finally poured on some offense late in the third period thanks to Gillian Apps setting up Dartmouth teammate Katie Weatherston for a wrap-around pass with 2:05 left. Dartmouth players have figured on all five goals scored by Canada in the four games against the U.S. in Under-22 over the past two series.
Weatherston’s goal proved to be all that Canada could muster against Lahar in the third despite 13 shots for the period. Darwitz ended any Canada comeback hopes with 1:46 left when she tipped in a setup from Princeton’s Liz Keady. Aside from the IIHF World Championship officials who missed Darwitz hitting the back of the net in April’s gold medal game against Canada, no one has succeeded in keeping Darwitz off the scoreboard for an entire game since she came back from her elbow injury last February.