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Righting Old Wrongs: U.S. Delivers Crucial Win Over Japan

Cassie Dunne (right) and Amber Greene helped turn away the Japanese late



Box score

Sometimes, as the narrative goes, teams need to slay an old demon before advancing to new heights.

Flash back to the 2015 World University Games in Granada, Spain. There, PSU's Madison Smiddy and Team USA had dropped their opening game of the tournament and needed a win against Japan in game two in order to stay alive for a semifinal bid. The contest was a tight one - Colorado State's Molly O'Neil tied things at one early in the third period - but the Americans eventually came unraveled with penalty trouble in the late going. The Japanese subsequently fired home three power play markers in the last 3:12 of the game to bounce Team USA from medal contention.

The three remaining members of the 2015 group and their new 2017 teammates were having none of that this time around against Japan - which went on to win the bronze medal at that 2015 tournament - even when similar circumstances eventually presented themselves Tuesday morning in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Leah MacArthur (Colorado) got things started on the right foot with 4:32 left in the opening period by deflecting a Nicole Matthews (Miami) shot down past Japan's Amika Yoshida to put the U.S. up at the break.

In the second period, the Kendra Myers show began.

The Grand Valley State senior put Team USA up 2-0 seven minutes in by circling the zone, then firing through from the high slot. Although Ai Ota answered on the next shift by jamming home a puck in front of Amber Greene (Massachusetts), Myers had one more trick in her bag.

Just after she finished serving a killed tripping call, Sabrena Camp (Adrian) found the veteran of the 2015 WUG streaking out of the box. Myers applied a stylish finish to the breakaway to restore the two-goal advantage.

The third period, much like in 2015, kept the American PK busy, beginning with a slashing call to Penn State's Cassie Dunne 8:16 in. Forty-seven seconds later, Becca Senden (Minnesota) joined Dunne in the box on a hook, and Suzuka Taka cashed in the 5-on-3 to bring things to 3-2 with plenty of time remaining.

The U.S. penalty parade didn't stop there: Senden went back off for an illegal hit with 8:01 left, followed by Kathleen Ash (Colorado) and Alyssa Visalli (Miami), both for tripping. The latter two calls overlapped to give Japan 59 seconds of 5-on-3 time, but this time Team USA and Greene - who closed with 32 saves - held strong until a pair of calls the other way alleviated things and helped close out the win.

Dunne started the game on defense and saw a healthy workload throughout, including time on both special teams, but was not on the ice for any goals for or against. She did take a pair of penalties, a killed first-period roughing call, and the hooking infraction that helped produce the Taka goal, and her six penalty minutes over two games are tied for third tournament-wide. On the other side of things, she played a large chunk of the late two-woman disadvantage that was crucial to preserving the tightest of leads.

With the win, Team USA has put itself in a good position to clinch a spot in the semifinals. Although Russia and Japan play each other on Thursday to close out the pool round, the U.S. now owns a crucial head-to-head tiebreaker over Japan - which won't even come into play if Russia drops the Japanese to 0-2 or even takes the game to overtime (overtime wins are worth fewer points than regulations wins at WUG). The squad's next game depends on results, with the semifinal games both taking place on Saturday morning and the first placement-round match on Friday morning.

WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES STANDINGS


Pool A
GPWOTWOTLL+/-GF:GAPts.
1
x- Canada
2
2
0
0
0
+22
23:1
6
2
China
2
1
0
0
1
-5
5:10
3
3
Kazakhstan
2
1
0
0
1
+8
12:4
3
4
Great Britain
2
0
0
0
2
-25
0:25
0
X
Pool B
GPWOTWOTLL+/-GF:GAPts.
1
Russia
1
1
0
0
0
+6
7:1
3
2
United States
2
1
0
0
1
-5
4:9
3
3
Japan
1
0
0
0
1
-1
2:3
0
x - clinched semifinal berth

WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES SCHEDULE


Date 
Game
Time (ET)Coverage/Result
Sat. Jan. 28
CAN-CHN (Group A)
5:30 a.m.
9-1
Sat. Jan. 28
KAZ-GBR (Group A)
9:00 a.m.
11-0
Sun. Jan. 29
USA-RUS (Group B)
1:30 a.m.
1-7
Mon. Jan. 30
CAN-GBR (Group A)
5:30 a.m.
14-0
Mon. Jan. 30
CHN-KAZ (Group A)
9:00 a.m.
4-1
Tues. Jan. 31
JPN-USA (Group B)
9:00 a.m.
2-3
Wed. Feb. 1
GBR-CHN (Group A)
5:30 a.m.
Wed. Feb. 1
KAZ-CAN (Group A)
9:00 a.m.
-
Thur. Feb. 2
RUS-JPN (Group B)
9:00 a.m.
Fri. Feb. 3
Placement Game 1
9:00 a.m.
TBD
Sat. Feb. 4
Semifinal 1
5:30 a.m.
Sat. Feb. 4
Semifinal 2
9:00 a.m.
Sun. Feb. 5
Placement Game 2
2:00 a.m.
TBD
Mon. Feb. 6
Placement Game 3
2:00 a.m.
TBD
Mon. Feb. 6
Bronze-Medal Game
5:30 a.m.
Mon. Feb. 6
Gold-Medal Game
9:00 a.m.

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