U.S.-Canadian Women bring Rivalry Series to LCA on Sunday
Women’s hockey has grabbed a bit of the spotlight lately, and this week it will capture more.
The United States and Canadian National Women’s teams meet in the three-game 2019 Rivalry Series this week with Game 3 to be played Sunday at Little Caesars Arena.
The Rivalry Series comes on the heels of the eye-opening performances of U.S. team members Kendall Coyne-Schofield and Briana Decker at the NHL All-Star Weekend skills competition. On top of that, the National Women's Hockey League All-Star Game held at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena this past weekend set an attendance record for women’s professional hockey in the U.S. with a crowd of 6,120.
The Rivalry Series opens at 7 p.m. Tuesday at a sold-out Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario. Game 2 will be played at 7 p.m. Thursday at Scotiabank Arena, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The finale is set for noon Sunday at Little Caesars Arena.
All games will be broadcast on the NHL Network in the U.S. and on TSN and RDS in Canada.
“Those are going to be very awesome opportunities,” Canada defenseman Renata Fast told NHL.com. “It’s great for the sport altogether, but it's also great for Hockey Canada and USA Hockey. It's another chance for both to see the depth in their individual programs.
"Also, when Canada and the U.S. play each other, it develops us as players. The Americans, they're fast, they're skilled – we have to be at the top of our game."
Decker talked about playing in NHL arenas.
“I think we usually get a little more attention in Olympic years, but I think it is important that we are able to be in these NHL venues in non-Olympic years,” she said. “Obviously, our goal is to sell these buildings out like the guys do. Are we going to do it this time? Probably not. It’s a goal for us to have that at some point in our careers and, we are looking forward to getting that started this year.”
The U.S. won its first Olympic gold medal in 20 years last February in a thrilling 3-2 shootout-win over Canada in the PyeongChang, South Korea, Winter Olympics. The United States won the first-ever Women’s hockey gold medal in1998, beating Canada in the final. Then Canada won the next four.
The U.S. took the silver medal in 2002, 2010, and 2014 and the bronze in 2006.
“We have been pushing for more games in general and more games against Canada because I think the fans enjoy it,” Decker said. “For the young girls, it’s important for them to see our game at the highest level, so we are looking forward to this series. It will be good for the fans to come out and watch.
“Anytime we can play Canada, anytime you can put on the U.S. uniform or they can put on their Canada uniform, it’s always fun to be out there. Those are the best games, and we live for those.”
Payback, of course, is on Canada’s mind.
“I think coming off the Olympics, too, this is a great opportunity to have a series like this and to continue the excitement of women’s hockey,” Fast said. “We talked about the lull after the Olympics, but I think this should bring excitement right back up.”
Sunday’s game will also help kick off USA Hockey’s Hockey Weekend Across America (Feb. 17-24), and be a part of NBC’s Hockey Day in America. NBC will do its half-hour pre-game show from Campus Martius in downtown Detroit before two NHL games on NBC (New York Rangers at Pittsburgh and St. Louis at Minnesota). Those games will be followed by the Red Wings and the Philadelphia Flyers at LCA at 6 p.m. on the NBC Sports Network.