Canada edges past U.S. in exhibition

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Hayley Wickenheiser set up two goals and goalie Shannon Szabados held on after a late brawl to help Canada beat the United States 3-2 on Saturday night in the opening game of the pre-Olympic tour.

After a U.S. player clipped Szabados outside her crease with 3:03 left, all 10 skaters squared off and two from each team were charged with major penalties for roughing and game misconducts.

"We had a similar scrap in 2010, so I guess we have one every Olympic cycle to get it out of our system," said Wickenheiser who has been a member of the Canadian national team since 1993. "It was kind of fun to see, and it brought a lot of intensity to another dog fight with these guys. There are few if any blowouts in this series."

The game at Gutterson Fieldhouse was the first of at least seven scheduled meetings between the two powers leading up the Winter Games in Sochi in February.

"It's hockey," American Meggan Duggan said. "It's a tough sport and our coaches always emphasize everyone sticking up for each other."

Canada's Carolina Ouellette opened the scoring at 4:16 of the second period, rapping the puck home off a feed from Jayna Hefford. Wickenheiser also picked up her first assist on the power-play goal. Just 1:21 later, Bailey Bram made it 2-0 with an even-strength goal.

Tara Watchorn made it 3-0 with another power-play goal 4:54 into the third after Wickenheiser won a faceoff.

Brianna Decker started the comeback bid on with a 5-on-3 power play at 11:05, on assists from Alex Carpenter and Duggan. Defender Gigi Marvin made it a one-goal game, skating in from the point to beat Szabados from the low slot with 5:31 to go. Twin sisters Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux picked up the assists.

Szabados snuffed out the rally with a point-blank save on Julie Chu with a minute to play.

"It turned out to be an awesome game and we have a lot to build from the way we played in the third period after trailing," said Chu, the oldest U.S. player at 31. "The young players really stepped up, young players like Alex Carpenter who really stepped up for us when we needed it tonight. The youngsters know when you get the nod to go, you go."

The teams will meet again in Montreal on Thursday night.