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Chu: Win over Canada an amazing start to tourney

Monday, 04.09.2012 / 5:08 PM / NHL Insider

By Julie Chu - Special to NHL.com

The 2012 IIHF Women's World Championship started Saturday in Burlington, Vt. Julie Chu from the United States team and Canadian team member Meghan Agosta will be blogging for NHL.com about their experiences during the tournament.

We were really excited to get the opportunity to open against Canada. Anytime we get to play them is exciting; we’re pumped up for the game and I know they are as well. Getting to open it up that way, I know we were all looking forward to that, but I don’t think anyone was expecting the atmosphere to be as exciting and as passionate and enthusiastic about our team as it actually was.

I’ve been on Olympic stages and played in front of some incredible crowds, but I don’t think that I’ve ever been in front of a U.S. crowd like that in our own rink, on our home soil, with so many flags and so much enthusiasm for our team, so that was an unbelievable experience in itself.

America's Julie Chu is blogging about the Women's World Championship for NHL.com.
READ Julie's First Blog

(Photo: Getty Images)

It was funny. I was talking to Gigi Marvin and she was saying that she got goose bumps. I had the same feeling. When we came out, it was great because they handed out small USA flags so everyone that came through the door got those. When we got out there it was sold out and completely packed and all we saw was a sea of American flags being waved in the stands.

That set the stage for us and gave us a little extra edge and a little extra confidence as the puck dropped, and Kelli Stack’s line with Monique Lamoureux-Kolls and Jocelyne Lamoureux went out there and they scored in the first shift. Anytime you can start strong and get an early goal is a huge bonus for the team and helps settle the nerves, but it also gives that little extra excitement and the fans. It just erupted when they scored and everyone on the bench was jumping and high-fiving and giving each other taps, and that was just the start of the momentum.

We scored five goals in the first five and a half minutes. I’ve been fortunate enough to be on the team for 12 years and I’ve never experienced that before -- a span of that many goals in such a short amount of time against Team Canada. It was an amazing feeling, but was a little bit strange, too. When you get a few quick goals it’s tough to bounce back from that. Our first period was very strong, the shots from that were 17-6 in our favor and 5-0 was the score.

The Canadians had a chance to regroup after the first intermission and came back and had a really strong second period. They actually outscored us 2-1 in the second period and we came back and realized that we needed to regroup. We had a solid lead on them and our focus was, “How do we make sure that we are still getting better every period? That we’re doing the things that we want to do to execute our game regardless of the score.”

So, in the third period we made sure that we came out and again had a good, solid effort and we tried to clean up the things that we didn’t do as well in the second period. We were definitely happy with our strong effort in the third period and a final score of 9-2.

It was an unbelievable way to start our first game, kicking off the World Championships here in Burlington, Vt., on home soil in front of an amazing, amazing crowd, and also to do it against Team Canada was an added bonus.

Even though it was won 9-2, I think we all know a win like that against Canada is rare. And if we do end up meeting later in the tournament, then I imagine the game will look very different and we will need to be prepared to earn everything we get.

After the game, our biggest thing was that this was amazing and we’re glad that we executed our game plan on this day, but then our coach, Katie Stone, said to us, “Make sure you enjoy this moment, you’ve earned it, and then at midnight, that’s when we switch over to the next game against Russia.”

Team Canada's Meghan Agosta is blogging about the Women's World Championship for NHL.com. READ Meghan's First Blog
(Photo: Hockey Canada)

We had a scouting report of Russia and we made sure that we were aware of what their tendencies were so that we could be prepared. Their goalie, Anna Prugova, played really well the first two periods, making 31 saves. In the third period they put in another goalie, Valentina Ostrovlyanchik, I think they were just on a rotation, but she made some really big saves, 14 in all.

We tried to get into the scoring area a lot more knowing that there would be a lot of contact and maybe some slashes and some physical play. The first two periods we saw a lot of that, and after the second period it was 4-0 and in the third we tried to attack a little bit more on the transition and capitalize on some of our power play opportunities as well. Anytime our special teams can be solid, they can definitely be game-changing. We scored five more goals in the third period for a final score of 9-0.

Going into Wednesday, we want to make sure that we’re not complacent or content with just the first two victories, but that we’re preparing well for Finland. I think the key against them is, my guess is they will probably have Noora Raty in goal and she’s a very strong goalie and she can be a game-changer there. I think that’s what we saw in their game against Canada with the 3-2 close game where she had to come up with big saves and be pretty solid up front. I think we have to get to her early if we can and try to create traffic and put lots of pucks on her and try to get the rebounds. It will be a battle.

It's hard to walk into that locker room and look those guys in the eye when they've played -- clearly, that was our best game we've played in the series -- and I thought we deserved a better fate tonight.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on his team's 3-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 on Sunday