HARTFORD – Three goals in two games for Sarah Fillier has helped Canada edge the USA women's hockey team twice in the My Why Tour pre-Olympic exhibition contests.
At the XL Center on Monday, Fillier filled the Team USA net twice as Team Canada escaped with a 3-2 win despite being outplayed for much of the game. Fillier potted a power play goal late in the match to put the Americans away for the fourth straight meeting between the two teams.
A newcomer to this year's Canadian Olympic squad, Fillier has made quite the impact ahead of the 2022 Beijing Games.
“I've got to train with Sarah Fillier for about a year now and even in practice, she has a niche for the net, getting around the net and finding those spots where she can be successful,” Team Canada's Natalie Spooner said. “We've seen it since she came into the program. I remember playing with her at the First Four Nations Cup and just being able to find her around the net. She's a natural goalscorer, but we see her scoring those tap-in goals instead of the pretty ones, which I'm sure she scores some of those too, but I think she's just able to find the soft spots and get pucks in.”
Fillier did exactly that for each of her two goals in Connecticut as No. 10 stood her ground at the far post both times and slid the puck past Team USA goalie Nicole Hensley.
“She's a talented, fast forward we have to be aware of, but we don't play her any differently than we play anyone else,” Team USA's Cayla Barnes said of Fillier. “We play defense a certain way against everyone and I think if we stick to how we play against their entire offensive attack, I think it's not an issue with her.”
In two seasons at Princeton, Fillier totaled 44 goals and 114 points in 60 games. During this past summer's IIHF World Championships, the sniper picked up six points in seven games as the Canadians took the gold medal for the first time since 2012.
The offensive abilities are clearly there for Fillier as she's one of Team Canada's top threats, yet her defensive awareness has also taken a step in the right direction.
“Similiar skills that work defensively also work offensively,” Team Canada coach Troy Ryan said. “Her first step is really good and that's why she's able to pounce on those power play opportunities and using those same skills to benefit her defensively as well.”
The Canadians will be out for revenge in Beijing as the Americans claimed the last Olympic gold medal in 2018 in Pyeongchang in a 3-2 shootout victory.
Should Fillier continue her scoring pace, Team Canada will be tough to stop in its journey for its fifth Olympic gold medal in team history.
The 2022 tournament will run from Feb. 3-17 in China.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.