Kevin Dineen learned quickly what the U.S. women’s hockey team is all about ahead of the Sochi Winter Games.
In his debut as Canada’s women’s team head coach, Dineen watched his club drop a 4-1 decision Friday to the Americans in exhibition action.
“Tremendous amount of respect for that opponent, that’s an exceptional team there,” said Dineen about his first taste of the U.S program.
Brianna Decker scored the eventual winner for the Americans while sisters Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux each had a goal and an assist. Hilary Knight added one more to round out the offence.
Haley Irwin scored Canada’s lone goal of the game as Jayna Hefford and Caroline Ouellette picked up assists.
U.S. goaltender Molly Schaus earned the win while Shannon Szabados took the loss for Canada.
Irwin opened the scoring for the Canadians at 17:22 of the first period. But the lead didn’t last long as Monique Lamoureaux tied it for the Americans with less than 10 seconds to go in the first frame.
“Getting scored on in the last 10 seconds of the first gave them momentum and we made some pretty big mental errors,” said Irwin.
Things got worse for Canada in the second period as they gave up three goals in a seven-minute span.
Decker scored for the U.S. at 8:37, Knight tacked on another at 13:24 and Jocelyne Lamoureux made it 4-1 just over two minutes later.
“There were preventable plays that led to scoring chances,” said Dineen. “The second period was an area I thought we were out played.”
The Americans not only controlled the scoreboard through the first 40 minutes, but they kept the Canadian squad from any real scoring chances. Heading into the third period Canada had registered just 11 shots on goal.
“I’ve seen that we need to look for ways to create more offence,” said Dineen. “Certaintly putting pucks on the net is a good way to start and we didn’t do that enough tonight.”
The Canadians tried to battle back in the third period, but couldn’t find a way to beat Schaus.
Eventually, emotions took over and with the game out of reach tempers flared in the final minute as 12 players — six from each club — were handed penalties with just eight seconds remaining in the contest after a 10-player altercation unfolded in front of the American net.
“It’s no different than any other rivalry in sport,” Irwin said about the tussle. “That emotional part that came out at the end for both teams ... obviously you don’t want players to have major penalties, but emotions do run high in hockey.”
Dineen took his first international coaching job after Dan Church stepped down unexpectedly last week with less than two months before the start of the Sochi Olympics.
Dineen served as head coach of the NHL’s Florida Panthers for just over two seasons until he was fired last month.
The Americans will host the Canadians in an exhibition game Dec. 28 in St. Paul, Minnesota.