US women’s hockey to face Canada

REMATCH: In this February 2018 file photo, the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team celebrate after defeating Canada in the gold medal match, in a shootout in Day 13 of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre, in Gangneung, South Korea. The U.S. will play Canada Feb. 8, in Anaheim, Calif. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/Tribune News Service

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The national teams of the United States and Canada, the two superpowers of women’s hockey, will face off at Honda Center on Feb. 8 to conclude their 2019-20 Rivalry Series. The U.S. women defeated Canada to win Olympic gold in 2018 at Pyeongchang, South Korea, reversing the outcome of the gold medal games at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

The Rivalry Series was initiated last season to give the women’s teams more chances to compete instead of relying on practices to stay sharp between major tournaments.

The game at Anaheim will be part of the Ducks’ planned “We Play Weekend,” which will include initiatives designed to help popularize girls’ and women’s hockey. Tickets will go on sale Nov. 13 at Honda Center and online at AnaheimDucks.com/WePlay.

Southern California has been represented on past U.S. women’s national and Olympic teams, most recently with Cayla Barnes of Eastvale winning a gold medal at Pyeongchang. The first U.S. women’s Olympic hockey team, in 1998, was led by former Simi Valley resident Angela Ruggiero, who became a four-time Olympic medalist and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015. Annie Pankowski of Laguna Hills is a three-time world champion with Team USA.

“It is so exciting to bring the best of women’s hockey to my hometown to share with the California hockey community,” Pankowski said. “I am honored to have been a part of the amazing growth of women’s hockey in California, especially through the Lady Ducks Organization. There have been so many people that have helped me in my journey, and I am looking forward to bringing the Rivalry Series to everyone who had a hand in my success.”

The Rivalry Series will start in Hartford, Connecticut, on Dec. 14 and end in Anaheim.

“We are excited to bring a Rivalry Series game to Anaheim,” Katie Million, director of women’s national team programs for USA Hockey, said in a statement. “It’s an incredible city with a great hockey fan base and we’re excited to have the opportunity to play in front of them and celebrate the game.”

The weekend activities also will include the U.S. players participating in events that promote hockey, fitness and academic excellence through the Ducks’ SCORE program (Scholastic Curriculum of Recreation and Education). The Ducks also plan to host a pregame panel called “Women in Sports,” which will feature prominent female athletes.

A postgame autograph session involving current and past members of the U.S. women’s national team also is scheduled. Team USA players are scheduled to conduct special clinics with kids ages 6 to 16 on Sunday, Feb.9, at Great Park Ice and FivePoint Arena in Irvine.

“We are very excited to host this historic rivalry here at Honda Center,” Aaron Teats, the Ducks’ chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “We have seen the growth of the women’s game firsthand through our Lady Ducks programming here in Southern California and we look forward to the continued growth and evolvement of women’s hockey for the generations to come.”