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Team USA Surrenders Two Third-Period Goals, Drops WUG Opener to China




Despite a third period goal from Kendra Myers, the U.S. National University Select Team dropped its opening match of the 2015 World University Games tournament to China, by a 2-1 score, Thursday afternoon in Granada, Spain.

After two periods of wide-open but scoreless hockey, the Grand Valley State star put the U.S. ahead 1-0 early in the third with a blocker-side snipe assisted by Whitney Thomas (Colorado) and Amanda Abromson (Massachusetts).

China shoved right back though, tying the game 3:21 later when Zhixin Liu found Xin Fang with a stretch pass that split the U.S. defense, and Fang bested Michigan State's Maria Barlow. The winner came with 4:33 remaining in the game, this time with Liu finding herself all alone in the slot and burying a centering feed from Minghui Kong. The helper was a bit of redemption for Kong, who had taken an elbowing penalty in a tied game five minutes earlier.

Barlow played well outside of the two defensive lapses. She finished with 22 saves and proved important to keeping the Americans in the contest early, as China used a pair of first-period power plays to race out to a 9-4 shooting advantage after 20 minutes. On the other end, Yuqing Wang starred late and staved off 23 of 24 Team USA shots taken after that opening frame to collect the win.

The Lady Ice Lions' representative to the team, senior defenseman Madison Smiddy, played well in partnering primarily with Thomas. She collected a plus-1 rating and fired two shots on goal, both during the third period. The second of those, during the Kong penalty and with roughly eight minutes remaining in what was then a 1-1 game, nearly ended in a rebound for Rhode Island's Cassie Catlow and was one of the U.S.' better scoring chances down the stretch.

“The team played well in their first game of the tournament against a tough competitor,” head coach Kristen Wright (Colorado) told USAHockey.com. “Our goaltender, Barlow, was outstanding, and we're looking forward to our offense keeping the pace quick in our next games. We also look forward to meeting Japan on Saturday for a rematch of the 2013 bronze-medal game.”

While the loss certainly stings and sharply contrasts with the stirring opening win by the Americans over Russia at the 2013 World University Games, it's unlikely to prove fatal by itself. Team USA takes on Japan next, at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, before closing the group stage with host Spain on Monday. Wins in both of those games will likely be enough to secure advancement to the semifinals, a privilege given to the top two teams in the pool.

Group A
GPWDL+/-GF:GAPts.
1
Japan
1
1
0
0
+11
11:0
3
2
China
1
1
0
0
+1
2:1
3
3
United States
1
0
0
1
-1
1:2
0
4
Spain
1
0
0
1
-11
0:11
0
X
Group B
GPWDL+/-GF:GAPts.
1
x - Canada
1
1
0
0
+6
7:1
4.5
2
Russia
0
0
0
0
0
0:0
0
3
Kazakhstan
1
0
0
1
-6
1:7
0
x - clinched semifinal berth

Date 
Opponent
Time (ET)Coverage/Result
Thu. Feb. 5
China
11:00 a.m.
L 1-2
Sat. Feb. 7
Japan
11:00 a.m.
Streaming TBD
Twitter
Live Scoring
Mon. Feb. 9
Spain
2:30 p.m.
Streaming TBD
Twitter
Live Scoring
Wed. Feb. 11
Semifinal
TBD
Thu. Feb. 12
Bronze-Medal Game
11:00 a.m.

Gold-Medal Game
2:30 p.m.

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