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US women find their scoring magic in victory over team from Russia

By: Rachel Blount , Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (TNS
February 13, 2018 Updated: February 13, 2018 at 12:17 pm
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GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Before the United States began the Olympic women’s hockey tournament, coach Robb Stauber was asked about his team’s sudden scoring drought.

There was only one way to fix it, he said, and it was a simple prescription: put more pucks on net.

It took the Americans 20 minutes to get the message Tuesday, but they finally delivered what their coach wanted in a 5-0 victory over the Olympic Athletes from Russia.

The United States managed only seven shots on goal in an uneven first period, then buried the Russians under 24 shots and three goals in the second at Kwandong Hockey Centre. Two of those came from forward Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson in a span of six seconds, a record for the fastest two goals by a man or woman in an Olympic hockey game.

Gigi Marvin of Warroad added a goal and an assist, and Hannah Brandt of Vadnais Heights scored in the third period as the U.S. outshot the Russians 50-13. The United States, now 2-0 in the tournament, will finish pool play against Canada (2-0) on Thursday.

“In the first period, we missed some opportunities to get the puck to the net,” Stauber said. “You’re not always going to score. But if you’re not taking the opportunities you’re given, it’s going to come back and bite you.

“We just have to stop doing that, and clearly we did in the second and third (periods). We’re a team that can look pretty and look good, and that’s fine. But we’ve got to get more pucks to the net. We got 24 shots in the second, and when you’re doing that, you’re doing the right things.”

The U.S. team was involved in a mini-controversy earlier Tuesday, when USA Today reported that goaltenders Nicole Hensley and Alex Rigsby might have to remove or cover the Statue of Liberty images on their goalie masks. The International Olympic Committee considered the image to be a potential violation of its prohibitions on political messages, prompting talks with USA Hockey on Tuesday afternoon.

Amid an uproar, the IOC determined Lady Liberty could stay. Hensley started the game and got the shutout, with Rigsby as backup. Andover’s Maddie Rooney, who earned a 23-save victory over Finland in the team’s Olympic opener, was scratched.

The team the United States faced Tuesday had been stripped of its flag, its anthem, its regular uniforms and even its name for the 17-day Olympic run. The International Olympic Committee banned Russia from the Pyeongchang Games as a country, after an investigation found it engaged in a state-sponsored doping program at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

The IOC allowed 169 Russian athletes who could prove they were drug-free to compete in Pyeongchang. But six women’s hockey players were given lifetime bans by the IOC in December in the fallout from the doping scandal.

The team in Pyeongchang is missing three players who were part of Russia’s roster at the 2017 world championships, including Ekaterina Smolentseva, a four-time Olympian and the team’s leading scorer in Sochi, and captain Anna Shibanova.

Coach Alexei Chistyakov put together a roster of young players he described as “a hungry generation,” eager to show what they could do in international play. They were routed 5-0 by Canada on Sunday, but the United States could not shake them in the first period Tuesday.

“We were being a little hesitant on shooting and probably overpassing a bit,” Brandt said. “We finally let that go in the second and third. We were just firing everything at the net, and we were able to get quite a few rebounds off of that.”

Kacey Bellamy gave the United States a 1-0 lead at eight minutes, two seconds of the first period, assisted by Lamoureux-Davidson and Marvin. The U.S. turned up the heat in the second, scoring three times in a span of 3:36. Lamoureux-Davidson beat two Russians to a bouncing rebound and swatted it in for a backdoor goal at 11:46, then poked the puck away from three opponents to create a breakaway she finished with a slick backhander at 11:52.

Marvin charged to the net to knock in a loose rebound at 15:22 for a 4-0 lead.

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