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Women’s U19 Team USA took on Canada at Huntington Beach

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Updated: August 26, 2015
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In the late afternoon of August 21st 2015, it all came together at the Rinks venue in Huntington Beach, California. Boards and equipment had been transported from 100s of miles away. Players and staff even further; all the way from Ontario, Canada. Players trained, team lists submitted to IFF, international referees hired, a professional secretariat from Texas installed and initial line-up sheets duly handed in. Everyone was full of excitement and anticipation for this very unique event.

The idea of the first ever Americas WU19 International Friendly between Team USA and Team Canada, originally conceived by Brett Davis of Floorball Canada, had been in preparation for about six months. The objective being to prepare everyone for the May 2016 WFC in Belleville, Canada.

After the traditional player line-up and the playing of the two proud national anthems, the doors to the venue were closed to shut out the strong, intruding California sun and keep out the almost unbearable August heat.

WU19 Faceoff

Soon after the referee blew the whistle, 28 seconds into the game, Number 88, Aislyn Stretch, scored the first goal for Canada, and assisted by Number 99, Holly Heuberger. Team USA put in a strong effort to resist the onslaught from Team Canada and the coaches worked hard to guide the players but in the end, Canada won the first period by seven to nothing.

During the first half of the second period, it appeared that USA had learned some valuable lessons and played much better.  About half way through the match, things heated up between the two teams and USA got their first 2 minute penalty. Eight minutes later, it got even worse.  In the heat of battle, while dueling for the ball, a player got pushed over the boards causing a bit of a stir-up and another 2 minute penalty was issued. After that incident, things calmed down.

After two brutal periods, Team USA converted one of their field players, Tori Lee, to a goal keeper as the starting goalie, Ellen Papilov, was hurt. Tori played in the goal for the remaining time of the two matches.

WU19 Team Canada scored a total of 20 goals in their first match against USA. An impressive performance indeed. Still all the USA girls showed great spirit and was not discouraged but very tired after working so hard for so long.

WU19 Scoring Opportunity
On August 22nd, very early in the morning, the whole venue was re-assembled again for the second match between the two young and promising national teams.  As the day before, Team Canada started off very strong and won the first two periods by seven to nothing and eight to nothing. Everyone played nicely and there was no further penalties; possibly due to a more relaxed atmosphere compared to that intense first day.

As a bit of a consolation, Team USA did win the final period of the event by 1-0.

After the official event was over, a shoot-out competition commenced, so that all the girls got a chance to practice penalty shots. Thirteen penalty shots total were made by each team under strict supervision by the two referees. Canada scored eight goals and USA scored two. One of the nicest goal scored during the shoot-out was USA’s Number 16, Sierra Kashow from Roseville, California. Sierra plays defense and also showed off some talent during the games.

USA’s Head Coach, Matt Rominger, had the following to say about the experience: “Canada was a great opponent! It was a great learning experience for the American players. We made great progress on defense and established a team identity. We look forward to improving our defense.”

Todd Crawford, Canada’s Head Coach, said this after a well-deserved day of rest: “We’d like to thank all involved for providing the opportunity to play an international game. It is a big step in the development for the sport here in North America. It is the first non-WFC qualifying game ever to take place in the Americas at any level, and to have it at the U19 girls level is groundbreaking!”

While asking for feedback from one of the parents, we got this response; “Our girls really enjoyed it and even more on Saturday. Hopefully we can all keep it alive and the sport will be considered for the 2024 Olympics.”

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Photos by Sean Edin and Darryl Gross