Canada tops U.S. in series opener

LAKE PLACID – In Thursday’s opening contest of a three-game series, the United States couldn’t match the intensity of rival Canada in a battle between each nation’s women’s under-18 hockey team at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid.

Canada broke open a 1-1 first-period deadlock by scoring the final three goals of the game to claim a 4-1 victory over the U.S.

Karley Heffernan led Canada with two goals and an assist, Hannah Miller added a goal and an assist and Lauren Wildfang set up two goals for the winners. Victoria Bach also scored for Canada.

Playing on her home prep school rink, Taylar Cianfarano of the National Sports Academy netted the only goal for the Americans, scoring with 18 seconds left in the opening period to tie the game at 1-1.

“Canada always brings it. Canada always has strong-willed players,” U.S. head coach Jeff Kampersal said. “We got outhustled, outcoached and outdisciplined. I just think Canada outwilled us today.”

The younger Americans, who have two 15-year-olds on the roster, held a 26-20 edge in shots on goal but could only get one puck past Shea Tiley, who made 25 saves to earn the win in net. The goal came off the stick of Cianfarano, who top-shelved a shot to beat Tiley on the short side of the net just 17 seconds after Heffernan recorded her first tally to put the Canadians on top 1-0.

Canada got the only goal of the second period when Bach netted what proved to be the game-winner at the 5:18 mark. With a 2-1 lead, Canada scored two more times in the third period, including an empty-netter. Miller notched the third Canadian goal, 5:49 into the stanza, and Heffernan rounded out the scoring with 2:35 remaining in the game when she slid a puck into an empty net after U.S. goalie Erin O’Neil was pulled in favor of an extra attacker.

Cianfarano, an Oswego native who played a solid game for the U.S., had a great opportunity to add one more goal in the last minute of the game when she was left alone with the puck in front of Tiley, but was unable to get off a good shot.

“This was the first time that a lot of players on our team faced Canada,” said Cianfarano, who won a silver medal at the 2013 under-18 world championships. “We had a few breakdowns here and there. Mentally, we were out there, but we needed to play with more energy overall.

“Even though we are a younger team, we are a team that can put the puck in the net,” she said. “We need to get better at doing the little things. That’s how you win hockey games. As a 22-man roster, we are here for a reason. Our goal is to beat Canada.”

With the win, Canada improved to 11-8 in the annual series, which dates back to 2007. The Americans will try to even the series today when the second matchup takes place at the Olympic Center’s 1980 Herb Brooks Arena. The opening faceoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.