Alex Carpenter, left, of the USA ice hockey team, battles Blayde Pogreba the Ice Wolves for the puck during Monday’s game at Outpost Ice Arenas. (Mike Sandoval / For the diary)
After a narrow loss to long-time rivals Canada two weeks ago, the American women’s hockey team wanted to get back on the ice.
Plans for a quick turn to right the ship were curtailed when an exhibition with Russia was canceled on the Russian team due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
This left the women’s team with an open day, which opened the door to a rare exhibition in the Outpost Ice Arenas, home of the New Mexico Ice Wolves, on Monday and Tuesday.
“Things are always changing and you have to adapt and adapt,” said US women’s coach Joel Johnson, who was named head coach this summer.
“If you play in a pandemic year, everything is insane for all of us. We are very grateful to Stan Hubbard (owner of the Ice Wolves), the Ice Wolves, the city, and the entire community. It was an amazing experience because we wouldn’t have had a chance to play games (this week). It is a privilege to be here and we are very happy about it. “
Adhering to the schedule is vital for top athletes. Aside from daily exercise, off-ice training, diet, and conditioning, beating the ice against quality competitions is the best test of Americans’ progress.
“I hope (it’s a competitive game) that’s why we’re here,” said Hilary Knight, US team forward. “When I play boys I remember the game against my brothers and it’s one of the funniest hockey games I’ve ever played. I’m looking forward to a good night and to working on things we need to work on until February. “
The Ice Wolves win 3-0 on Sunday and have no scheduled game until Friday’s home game against Wichita Falls. When offered the opportunity to compete against the US team, Ice Wolves head coach Phil Fox said it was an easy decision.
“Stan called me and asked if we (the USA team) would be ready to play our team. I said absolutely, ”said Fox. “It’s a pretty unique experience. It’s not often that the US team comes to Albuquerque, New Mexico, let alone play against our boys. We have never done anything like this before. “
Dillan Bentley, a co-captain of the Ice Wolves, recalled how the US team won gold in 2018. He said he has never played a competitive game at this level against women but he expects him and his teammates to play their own game.
“I’m not sure what to expect,” said Bentley. “They’re the best of the best, and for a reason. Everyone respects what they have been through and about getting to where they are in their hockey career. “
Speaking of new experiences, as far as the US women’s team has traveled, few have breathed the fresh mountain air of the land of enchantment.
“I think there are only two players on our team who have been to New Mexico state so this is definitely a new experience,” said Kendall Coyne-Schofield, captain of the US team. “’It’s an experience we’re embracing and we look forward to playing the ice wolves. We’re grateful that they opened their game plan for us because it was last minute and it’s an opportunity to play against them and be here where we’ve never been before. Hopefully we will inspire some young children along the way. “
NEXT: Tuesday’s game will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Outpost Ice Arenas.
GAME REVIEW MONDAY: The Ice Wolves returned an early rally in the third period, scoring three goals to beat the U.S. women’s team 7-3. Team USA was 4: 1 behind after two periods, but finished 4: 3 after goals from Alex Carpenter and Britta Curl – the latter with 13:13 remaining.
Ice Wolves’ Jack Dalton countered two minutes later and Nicolas Haviar and Blayde Pogreba bet on insurance goals.
The ice wolves had a 40:27 advantage when it came to shots on goal. … There were only two penalties, both against the Ice Wolves.