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Knight lives up to legacy for United States in Rivalry Series

Decorated forward helps clinch victory in competition against Canada

by Kevin Woodley / Independent Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- With one goal, one assist and one gesture to the crowd, Hilary Knight cemented her legacy as one of the greatest players in United States women's hockey, and a key to its greatest rivalry.

Playing in Vancouver for the first time since losing the gold medal game to Canada at the 2010 Olympics, the forward set up forward Hayley Scamurra for the go-ahead goal at 7:53 of the third period and scored into an empty net with 1:50 left before turning to the face the stands, raising her right index finger to her lips and shushing a largely pro-Canadian crowd of 8,467 at Rogers Arena on Wednesday.

The 3-1 win clinched the 2019-20 Rivalry Series for the United States, which leads the best-of-five series 3-1. The way Game 4 ended further reinforced Knight's status in the sport and its most bitter rivalry.

"I'm a little salty from 2010," Knight said, "So I was saving that one in my back pocket."

Knight hadn't forgotten the reaction of fans in Vancouver after the United States lost 2-0 in the gold medal game at the 2010 Olympics.

"I had some back and forth after our gold medal loss with the fans up here, so I definitely take that to heart," Knight said. "It's from 10 years ago, but obviously, there's a lot of passion and I think that's what brings out the best in us, both teams, a great competitive environment."

That it was Knight who helped lead the United States to the win was hardly a surprise. 
The 30-year-old has emerged as the face of women's hockey since that gold-medal loss in 2010, adding a second silver at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and a gold medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, as well as eight gold and two silver medals at the IIHF Women's World Championships, and a medal at each of the 12 Four Nations Cup tournaments she has played. Knight recorded her 200th point with the U.S. National Team on a game-tying power play goal in a 3-2 overtime loss in Victoria on Monday, and added two more when the U.S. outshot Canada 10-2 in the third period on Wednesday, giving her 114 goals and 88 assists in 173 games. 

"She is a leader amongst the leaders," coach Bob Corkum said.

That her dominant third-period performance came in Vancouver wasn't a surprise either, but not just because of her memories from 2010. For Knight, the return trip was special because it included a team dinner Tuesday at the home of Hockey Hall of Fame and former U.S. forward Cammi Granato, her childhood idol, and the reason Knight wears No. 21. 
Knowing Granato and her family were in the stands provided even more motivation. 

"Whenever your idol wants to watch you play, you really want to show up and show out," Knight said. "Her inviting us over to her house and sharing moments with her and her family is incredible. She's our icon, childhood hero, so to have more touchpoints with her, it's really heartfelt and it means a lot."

Knight wasn't willing to look at herself in the same terms as Granato within the sport, but her teammates left little doubt how she is regarded, not just by other young girls playing hockey, but also within a locker room now loaded with other recognizable stars like forwards Amanda Kessel and Kendall Coyne Schofield. 

"It's just an ultimate confidence; anytime she's on the ice something good happens," Coyne Schofield said. "She's a dangerous player and she's been in this program for so long and she's a quiet leader but when she speaks, everybody listens. She leads by example on the ice and is one of the greatest to ever play the game, one of the greatest ever put on that USA jersey."

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