By Ethan Diamandas
A possible preview of the Olympic gold medal game reached Ottawa on Tuesday, when the Canadian women’s hockey team took on the United States at TD Place.
For one local player, the emotions started about an hour before puck drop.
“I think what got me the most was just going out in warm up,” said winger Jamie Lee Rattray, Team Canada’s lone player from the Ottawa area. “And there was already a lot of people here, just getting their seats … I had to take a second and just take it in.”
Rattray, who is from Kanata, had already spent countless hours in this arena. The 29-year-old grew up watching Ottawa 67’s games at Lansdowne Park, and now she got to take the ice as a player, this time with a red Maple Leaf on her chest.
“Obviously a very special night for me,” the former Kanata Blazer said. “I had lots of friends and family in the building.”
Rattray and Canada entered the fourth game of the teams’ Rivalry Series looking to avenge their loss in the last meeting with Team U.S.A., and the game was feisty from the beginning.
The U.S. outshot Canada in the first period, but Canada held things scoreless – relying on some timely defense and physicality to stir up trouble and clear bodies from in front of the net.
A too-many-men penalty in the middle of the second period wound up being costly, as Team U.S.A. blasted a one-timer that deflected past Canadian goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens to open the scoring.
Instead of Canada resurging on offence, its lack of discipline continued. The U.S. would execute a pretty tic-tac-toe goal during a two-man advantage to double its lead to the final score of 2-0, and silence the once excitable sold-out crowd.
Rattray received a thunderous ovation when she first got into the game – and she acknowledged the fans’ appreciation. Every time the puck touched her stick, 8,385 Ottawa supporters cheered, trying to will their hometown hero to bang one in.
“It’s definitely pretty special,” Rattray said. “Obviously would’ve liked to score a couple goals and blow the top off this building, but I think it’s really awesome to have that support.”
The hollering got especially loud as time began to run out. Rattray certainly tried her best to score – the entire Canadian team tried, generating more chances in the dying minutes than it did the entire game – but American goalie Maddie Rooney stood tall, shutting Canada out.
The series is set up to help both teams finalize their 23-man rosters for the Beijing Olympics in February, where Canada is likely to meet the U.S. in the finals, but that’s still a way down the road. For now, Canada is focused on getting better game-by-game.
“We can create a lot of momentum out of these games because we can show that we can play with a lot of grit as well,” centre Brianne Jenner said. “And it shows that we have each other’s backs out there, which is something that really builds a team over the years.”
The series, which is now tied at two games apiece, shifts back to the U.S., with games set for Dec. 15 and Dec. 17 in St. Louis, and Dec. 20 in St. Paul, Minn.
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