BURLINGTON, Vt. -- No one expected this, but the sellout crowd of 4,000 in the University of Vermont's Gutterson Fieldhouse nonetheless enjoyed the 9-2 beating the United States dealt Canada in the IIHF Women's World Championship on Saturday night.
The Americans uncorked a five-goal haymaker in the game's first five minutes and never let up in scoring their most one-sided win over their northern neighbors in any top-level competition.
"We knew we wanted to come out and have a fast start, I don't think you would have expected five goals in the first 10 minutes of the game," said U.S. forward Monique Lamoureux-Kolls, who scored three goals and set up three others.
"Obviously, it was not the way we wanted to start the tournament," said Canadian coach Dan Church. "Hats off to the U.S. and the way they played the game."
Particularly lethal for the U.S. was the top line of Lamoureux-Kolls, Jocelyne Lamoureux (two goals, two assists) and Kelli Stack (three assists). The trio wreaked havoc on the Canadian defense, pouncing on rebounds and deflections against a pair of Canadian goalies.
"I don't think you could have expected that much from us, that many garbage goals," Lamoureux-Kolls said. "All of our goals were off rebounds or tips from the point. Stack didn't put in any goals but for her to beat so many people wide and with her speed and putting shots on net for us to bury just adds to that chemistry that Joss and I have."
Added Lamoureux: "All of Monique's goals and my goals, none of them were off direct shots. They were tip-ins or rebounds. Monique and I were kind of laughing with our linemate Stack. She had some nice toe-drags and put some pucks on net and we got the garbage she left for us."
The onslaught was particularly surprising since the U.S. had 1-0 to Canada in an exhibition game at Ottawa, one week earlier. Lamoureux-Kolls said the American game plan for Saturday called for plenty of shots and strong net presence in front of the Canadian goalies. "A lot of our ‘D' has bombs for shots so we did that really well," she said.
The strategy worked to perfection in the first five minutes as the Canadians, stunned by Lamoureux's goal just 37 seconds into the game, reeled defensively under the persistent pressure of the U.S. skaters invigorated by playing in front of a hometown crowd.
"That's awesome," Lamoreux-Kolls said of the fans' reception. "Any big crowd we've had has been pro-Canadian, so to have that all behind us -- it was a sixth player on the ice for us. We could hear the 'USA' chants and as female athletes we don't get that a lot, so to have that on home ice, it's exciting, for sure."
Though Canada has a solid contingent of rooters, its fans had little to cheer.
"We had some lapses, weren't real tight in our end and gave the puck away a few times, making it way to easy on them," Canadian veteran Hayley Wickenheiser said. "We gave them space on the ice where they shouldn't have had it and they capitalized."
After Lamoureux scored the first goal against Canada's starting goalie, Charline Labonte (15 saves), Hilary Knight snapped the second U.S. goal inside the far post at 1:24. Lamoureux-Kolls made it 3-0 at 3:34 with a power-play goal that sent Labonte to the bench.
Shannon Szabados fared no better in the Canadian crease, receiving too little defensive assistance against the swarming U.S. attackers. Julie Chu scored another power-play goal at 4:52 and Lamoureux-Kolls scored again at 5:32 to finish the scoring in a period in which the Americans outshot the Canadians 17-6.
The second period featured much more even play, with the Canadians picking up their physical play and overall effort. They outscored the U.S. 2-1, Natalie Spooner and Marie-Philip Poulin scoring with Lamoureux netting the U.S. goal.
But the third period belonged to the U.S. with Josephine Pucci, Hilary Knight and Lamoureux-Kolls adding goals. Molly Schaus finished with 20 saves for the U.S.
After the game, Lamoureux-Kolls voiced the opinion that the U.S. should put little stock in the score. "If we end up playing them again, it's going to be a completely different game and there's no reason to take them lightly," she said.
"Any win is huge for us," said Stack. "To open the tournament against your biggest rival and put up a big score like that, it's awesome for our team."
For the Canadian perspective, Church said, "We have two choices. We can wallow in our self-pity or we can get back on our horse and get to work. I'm sure our players are going to choose the latter.
"I saw some good things from our team in the second period. We are going to focus on those moving forward. It's just one game of hopefully five here, and we have to focus on (Finland on Sunday)."
The U.S. will play Russia on Sunday evening after Canada meets Finland in the afternoon.